Nature on our doorsteps - Wild flowers and more pollen

By Rosaleen Dwyer

Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin County Council – every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures

In some of our public parks this summer, grass was allowed to grow longer so that more wild flowers could bloom and set seed. The result of this approach was that much more pollen and nectar was made available to our pollinating insects.

Listen for chirping grasshoppers in grassy meadows like this one in Tymon Park 1

Listen for chirping grasshoppers in grassy meadows like this one in Tymon Park

The longer grass also benefited other insect groups, such as grasshoppers. You only have to stand beside one of these long-grass meadows and listen to their chirping ‘song’ to see (and hear!) the difference that the longer grass has made to providing a home for these creatures.

Being mostly green or brown in colour, grasshoppers are not easy to see in long grass. Walk through the meadow, however, and see them jump ahead of you, using their powerful hind legs to catapult themselves out of your way.

Grasshoppers can also fly short distances. They have two pairs of wings, a toughened pair of fore-wings and a delicate pair of hind-wings that lie protected underneath the hardened pair until the insect needs to fly.

Their ‘song’ is not a vocal sound. The grasshopper’s hind legs have little hardened pegs along its edge and when the insect rubs its legs against its hardened wings, the characteristic chirping sound is made.

Using their powerful hind legs grasshoppers can jump 20 times their own length 1

Using their powerful hind legs grasshoppers can jump 20 times their own length

While grasshoppers have biting mouthparts, they are herbivores, feeding only on grass and leaves.

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