I'm catching up on identifying creatures in some of my older photos, and came across this stunning grasshopper:
Its coloration made me think it was a nymph, but its size had me wondering whether it was some sort of lime-green adult I had not seen before. Of course, I turned to bugguide.net, and it seems those assumptions were correct on both counts. The experts there identified it as a nearly mature nymph, a female Schistocerca of some sort.
Schistocerca species are collectively known as 'bird grasshoppers', apparently due to their size. The likely species here is Schistocerca shoshone, though as is the case with many insects, it is not known with certainty.
Be sure to check out the eyes and antenna on the full sized image. The eyes look like caraway seeds seen in sausage.
Anyway, the photo above was taken in June 2009, and it makes me wish it were summer already. But I really can't complain - here in the low desert insect activity only slows a bit in winter, and bird activity stays exciting with lots of vagrant over-wintering species. As an example, last weekend I spotted 4 butterfly species in my front yard, and the rare Baikal Teal up in Gilbert. Not bad for December!