AUSTIN (KXAN) — A rare pink grasshopper was found by a KXAN viewer in her garden Sunday.
Angela Barger sent us this beautiful photo of a pink — yes, pink — grasshopper in southwest Austin and come to find out, there aren’t many pink grasshoppers around.
Why are they pink? It’s a genetic mutation, said Victoria Hillman with National Geographic.
Hillman said 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 said, even though it was discovered in katydids in 1887.
The mutation typically happens in the common meadow grasshopper, Hillman said.
“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 said many of the pink grasshoppers don’t make it to adulthood because it’s easier for predators to see them 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.