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Rare Candy-Pink Grasshopper Discovered By 3-Year-Old In Texas

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Rare Candy-Pink Grasshopper Discovered By 3-Year-Old In Texas
A three-year-old recently found a rare candy-pink grasshopper. Allison Barger

A rare pink grasshopper was discovered by a three-year-old exploring his Austin, Texas garden earlier this week. An image of the candy-colored insect was shared by the boy's mother Allison Barger, according to KXAN, an NBC affiliate.


Allison Barger

Why is the grasshopper pink? It's the result of a genetic mutation, National Geographic Explorer and Research Director for the Translyvania Wildlife Project Victoria Hillman said, according to KXAN. During her field season, Hillman and her team found six such grasshoppers in their early nymph stages.

"How many of you have seen a pink grasshopper in the wild?" Hillman writes in a 2013 blog post. "I certainly hadn't and didn't even know you could have a pink grasshopper, let alone actually see one for real in the wild!"

"They do exist but rarely make it to adulthood as they are easily picked off by predators as they are so conspicuous against the green foliage compared to the normal green and brownish morphs which is one of the reasons they are hardly ever seen, the other reason I will explain below," she adds.

The bubble-gum pink insect gets its unique color-combo from a condition known as erythrism, whereby a recessive gene similar to those affecting albino animals. Instead of a complete loss of pigmentation, erythrism sees a complete replacement of normal pigment with an "exceptional prevalence" of red pigmentation. On the other hand, some insects at higher altitudes may experience melanism, a genetic mechanism that darkens the pigmentation to absorb more solar radiation, allowing for the ability to heat up more quickly.

In humans, erythrism may play a role in the presence of red hair and freckles. It could also impact the coloring of fur, feathers and eggshells of other animals, according to a 1997 study published in JSTOR.

"This mutation results in one of two things happening or even a combination of the two; a reduce or even absence of the normal pigment and/or the excessive production of other pigments, in this case red which results in pink morphs," wrote Hillman.

Though rare, erythrism has been observed throughout the animal kingdom. Four years ago, a similarly pink-hued female meadow grasshopper was captured in the UK. Just last summer, a strawberry-colored leopard was spotted in South Africa's Thabo Tholo Wilderness Area last summer, IFLScience reported at the time.

Former U.S. Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz listens during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Isaac Brekken / Getty Images for National Clean Energy Summit

By Jake Johnson

Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.

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Climate change can evoke intense feelings, but a conversational approach can help. Reed Kaestner / Getty Images

Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.

"It's easy to feel dwarfed in the context of such a global systemic issue," says psychologist Renée Lertzman.

She says that when people experience these feelings, they often shut down and push information away. So to encourage climate action, she advises not bombarding people with frightening facts.

"When we lead with information, we are actually unwittingly walking right into a situation that is set up to undermine our efforts," she says.

She says if you want to engage people on the topic, take a compassionate approach. Ask people what they know and want to learn. Then have a conversation.

This conversational approach may seem at odds with the urgency of the issue, but Lertzman says it can get results faster.

"When we take a compassion-based approach, we are actively disarming defenses so that people are actually more willing and able to respond and engage quicker," she says. "And we don't have time right now to mess around, and so I do actually come to this topic with a sense of urgency… We do not have time to not take this approach."

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

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