Rare Candy-Pink Grasshopper Discovered By 3-Year-Old In Texas
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.
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.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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