AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Texas woman spotted a striking insect standing out against the backdrop of her garden Sunday – a pink grasshopper.
Angela Barger snapped a photo of the grasshopper at her home in southwest Austin and come to find out there aren’t many pink grasshoppers around.
Why are they pink? It’s a genetic mutation, Victoria Hillman with National Geographic says.
Hillman says the mutation is called erythrism, and it’s caused by a recessive gene similar to the one that affects albino animals. It’s unusual and not very understood, she says, even though it was discovered in katydids in 1887. The mutation typically happens in the common meadow grasshopper, Hillman says.
“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,” Hillman wrote in a blog for National Geographic.
It’s also not easy being pink. Hillman says many of the pink grasshoppers don’t make it to adulthood because predators can see them easier against plants.
An internet search revealed pink grasshoppers have been seen and documented in the United Kingdom, but hardly any came back as sightings in the United States.