Green Milkwood Locust (Phymateus viridipes)
aka African Bush Grasshopper

Green Milkwood Locusts belong to the family of Gaudy Grasshoppers (Pyrgomorphidae) and live up to their name. They grow to 2.8" (70mm) long and while their bodies and forewings are green, their hindwings are shades of red and blue. The spiny area behind their heads is covered in green bumps, tipped with red. The joints where their legs leave their bodies are also red. Their eyes are yellow-gold and antennae are black. Long rear legs are spiny below the knee.

Green Milkwood Locusts are generally seen in swarms on trees and bushes, looking like colourful leaves.

Green Milkwood Locust females lay batches of 100 eggs, 2.25" (6cm) deep in soil, hatching to coincide with the rains. The eggs are dormant for a month and are surrounded by a brown froth that hardens into a protective sponge, before hatching. Locusts live for up to 4 months, depending on climatic conditions.

Green Milkwood Locusts are infrequently predated by birds. Due to the noxious fluid they exude, they are not on many predators diet list. Man, with pesticides, is the biggest threat, especially when this Locust starts eating cash crops e.g. coffee.

When disturbed, Green Milkwood Locusts opens its wings and rustles them, making it appear larger and thus more formidable. They are thought to release a noxious fluid from the joints in the centre of its body (thorax). Having large wings, they can fly for long periods and are known to migrate between feeding places.

Green Milkwood Locusts have a highly toxic diet, mostly from the Milkweed family after which they are named. They favour Bushman's Poison shrub (Acokanthera oppositifolia), Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) and Monkeyrope Creeper (Secamone alpini). Locusts typically eat their weight in food each day.

Other Green Milkwood Locust Facts
Green Milkwood Locusts are featured on some African countries postage stamps, notably Rwanda and Swaziland.

Images taken in Karen, Kenya.

Categories & Keywords
Subcategory Detail:
Keywords:african bush grasshopper, gaudy grasshopper, grasshopper, green milkwood locust, insect, kenya, locust, wildlife

Green Milkwood Locust

Green Milkwood Locust, aka African Bush Grasshopper, with wings up, showing its beautiful colouring.