The Homer grasshopper (Sigaeus homerensis) takes its name from the Homer tunnel that links Piopiotahi/Milford Sound with the Te Anau road.
Homer grasshoppers can be either ‘drab gold’ or ‘dark blue-grey’, although more are golden than blue-grey. But calling them ‘drab’ doesn’t do them justice – the golden colour morph is stunning, with red accents on the legs.
Homer grasshoppers have tiny wings that are no good for flying. Without wings, they’re limited to hopping like most other native New Zealand grasshoppers.
Males are about 20mm long on average, but females can grow up to 38mm long! That’s roughly as long as a walnut.
Homer grasshoppers hail from just three high alpine locations in Fiordland. Being native to Fiordland means this insect survives the lowest sunshine hours in the country and some of the highest rainfall.
Living the high life is risky. They live in places that regularly get pummeled by powerful avalanches that sweep away any tall plants.
There’s a lot we don’t know about the Homer grasshopper because it was only discovered in the early 2000s. For example, we’re not sure why they live in such a risky environment. It might be because grasshoppers like this one love sun-basking and need the sun to be active during the day – stretches of mountain cleared of tall plants by avalanches mean more sun can filter through.
Check these links for more info on the Homer Grasshopper in NZ
iNaturalist.nz: Observations of Sigaus homerensis
Wikipedia: Information on Sigaus homerensis
Radio New Zealand: Critter of the Week: Homer Grasshopper (2019)
Click on the image to visit the official iNaturalist.nz observation.