The world of insects is huge with different kinds of animals. One of the most extraordinary and interesting specimens is the steppe dybka. This is a relatively small insect, which rarely anyone managed to see in the wild with their own eyes. The animal is not numerous and lives only in the steppes, on the slopes, hills and lowlands, which are completely covered with dense vegetation, wild grasses, and wormwood. What kind of insect is this “steppe dybka”? Let's get to know him better.
Species origin and description
In the meadow, steppe forbs, there is a huge number of different insects. Among them, it is impossible not to note a rather large grasshopper. Many do not even suspect that this is not just a grasshopper, but a steppe horse – a very rare and unique animal. To see such an insect with your own eyes is a great success. Its number, unfortunately, is constantly declining. The steppe is an arthropod type of animal, included in the class of insects and the order – Orthoptera. Due to its large size, it is by far the largest in the grasshopper family.
Interesting fact: the steppe gorse is not only the largest member of the grasshopper, but also the most unique. Among insects of this species there are no males. All bucks are female!
How can you recognize a steppe dybka? You can recognize it, first of all, by not quite the usual size for an ordinary grasshopper. This is a large grasshopper, the length of which, on average, can reach eighty millimeters. And this is without taking into account the ovipositor. It usually does not exceed forty millimeters in size. In nature, there were adults and more significant dimensions – about fifteen centimeters.
The color of the steppe dybka does not differ from the rest of the representatives of its family. Their body color is green. Less commonly, adult grasshoppers with a brownish-yellow color can be found. The body of these insects is very elongated, and on the sides you can see longitudinal stripes, the color of which is much lighter than the general color of the body.
Appearance and Features
The steppe dybka has a characteristic appearance. Large dimensions. In the family of true grasshoppers, this species is the largest. The average size of such an insect is about eight centimeters, but sometimes larger individuals are also found – up to fifteen centimeters in length.
The elongated body is green. There are lighter stripes on the sides.
Video: Steppe Dump
Small head, sharply sloping forehead. The head has the shape of a cone, from the sides it is slightly compressed. The organs of the mouth of the steppe dybka are very powerful, gnawing. Mandibles can easily bite the throat of prey. It has long, pronounced antennae. The length of the antennae reaches, on average, four centimeters. Antennae play an important role. They perform the function of touch. Also, big eyes. The vision of such grasshoppers is excellent, the eyes are well developed.
The steppe dybka has three pairs of legs: front, middle and back. The front and middle legs are used for running and catching prey. These insects are predators. The front legs serve as a tool for securely grasping prey. The hind legs are most likely made for jumping. They are stronger and much longer. However, the dybki almost never jump. Wings are rudimentary. Some adults lack them.
Where does the prairie ridge live?
The steppe horse is a rare and unique animal that needs special conditions to live. These animals are suitable for a temperate climate and grass-forb steppes. These are ideal conditions for such animals, therefore, in the steppes, dykes are most common. However, individual populations of grasshoppers also live in other landscape conditions: on hills, in mountains and lowlands, densely overgrown with vegetation. Steppe dybki prefer to live, breed in shrubs, grass and grass vegetation. In some places they live in thickets of thorns. Not many individuals live in the mountains. Steppe dybki do not settle above one thousand seven hundred meters above sea level.
An interesting fact: the Steppe Dyka appeared in the USA by artificial means. In the seventies of the last century, it was specially brought to Michigan from Italy. Despite the artificial appearance in the United States, the steppe gorse quickly adapted there and took root well.
The natural habitat of steppe dykes is relatively small. It includes the south of Europe, the Crimean peninsula and the Mediterranean. The natural range includes the Pyrenees, the Balkans and the Apennines. These huge grasshoppers are almost evenly distributed over the steppes adjacent to the Black Sea coast. Also, individual populations of such insects are found on the unplowed fields of the Russian territory. There is a small amount in Saratov, Voronezh, Rostov, Chelyabinsk and other regions.
Now you know where the steppe dybka lives. Let's see what it eats.
What does the prairie hock eat?
The steppe dybka can be called a rather dangerous predator. This animal has good hunting skills. He has well-developed eyesight, has tenacious front paws, a strong oral apparatus that can easily bite the throats of victims. Also, the insect can quickly move through vegetation and land. If necessary, it can freeze for a long time in one place in order to wait for the most opportune moment to attack. Sometimes they spend the whole night hiding in the grass.
The invisibility of the hunter plays a huge role in the hunting process. Steppe Dybka was very lucky in this. Its green color makes it easy to camouflage in the thick of grass and other vegetation. Also, the elongated structure of the body helps in disguise. From afar, it can be mistaken for a plant stem, so potential insect victims do not know until the last moment that they are already being hunted.
Interesting fact: Large grasshoppers can endure hunger for a long time. However, in very critical situations, these insects can even eat parts of their bodies, not to mention their relatives.
So, the diet of the steppe hump includes:
- various beetles;
- their closest relatives are small grasshoppers.
Steppe dybs feast on many insects, but some of them are categorically avoided. For example, they do not eat bedbugs, which is associated with a very pungent and unpleasant odor. Bed bugs secrete a special liquid. Also, dybka do not eat scaly butterflies. For them, such a treat can be fatal. Butterflies can completely clog the mouth apparatus.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
Steppe Dybka is an animal that does not live very long. The life cycle is only one year. The insects are nocturnal throughout the year. During the day, they prefer to rest, hiding in the thick of vegetation. For the life of a dybka, they choose places with dense grass, wormwood, or wild grasses. They prefer to live and breed in the steppe, on hills and mountains located far from people. The distribution of the population can be called sparse. This is due to the fact that each adult grasshopper has its own hunting territory.
All steppe dybs are predators. At dusk, they come out of their hiding place and begin to hunt various beetles, locusts, praying mantises, flies and smaller grasshoppers. Sometimes they feast on small invertebrates. In the process of hunting, the steppe dybka can be motionless for several hours, tracking down its prey. However, often everything goes much faster and easier. Dybka firmly grabs its prey with its paws, inflicts a bite on its neck. The bite is fatal, so the animal can simply eat slowly.
Having satiated enough, the rest of the night and day the steppe dybka spends practically in a motionless state. It is easily lost among the rough vegetation due to its camouflage body color. The character of such an insect cannot be called calm. Grasshoppers have a fighting disposition. In case of danger, the animal first tries to flee, but if this is not possible, then it takes a threatening position. If caught, it can even bite painfully.
Social Structure and Reproduction
The Steppe Hock is the only representative of the genus that does not contain males. Many scientists have been analyzing and studying this issue in detail. Sometimes male grasshoppers of similar animal species were mistaken for males. However, it was not possible to prove the existence of males. This feature of this type of insect greatly affected their lifestyle and the process of reproduction.
Steppe buck females do not need to look for a mate for themselves in order to prolong the genus. They have a parthenogenetic method of reproduction, that is, eggs develop in the body of an animal without prior fertilization. Adults are ready for procreation after about three to four weeks after becoming adults. Usually this stage falls on the month of July.
Eggs are laid by insects in a special ovipositor – this is the organ of the rack, which consists of several pairs of appendages. Before laying eggs, the female carefully examines the soil. The ovipositor and antennae help her in this. With their help, it is possible to find the most optimal place for eggs, where the larvae will then develop. Eggs are laid in the evening. At one time, the steppe dyka is able to lay about seven pieces. At the same time, in the body of the female herself, the process of egg maturation does not stop. The last clutch is carried out in the month of September, after which the female dies.
Eggs remain in the soil, spend the whole winter in an unchanged state. Only with the advent of heat, larvae begin to appear from the eggs. The first larvae are about twelve millimeters long. For one month, they are actively developing. In thirty days, the larva increases in size by about ten times. This completes the process of turning into an adult.
Natural enemies of steppe horns
The steppe ridge itself is a predator and poses a great danger to many beetles, grasshoppers, praying mantises and other insects. The animal has powerful jaws, tenacious paws and moves quickly. However, all this does not protect him from many natural enemies. It would seem that the dybka has an excellent disguise. Her body is very reminiscent of the stem of a plant, and its color makes it easy to get lost among the greenery. But even this does not save the haunches from various predators.
The most dangerous for these animals are:
- various parasitic organisms. Some of them lay their eggs directly into the body of grasshoppers, which leads to the slow death of the latter;
- birds of prey. Almost all large birds will not refuse to eat such a large grasshopper;
- rodents; Many rodents live in the steppes, which deftly catch steppe dykes. For them, such a hunt is not difficult, because in the daytime grasshoppers rest and lose their vigilance.
Population and species status
Steppe dybka is a unique animal. But, unfortunately, such representatives of the grasshopper family are becoming less and less every year. To date, this animal is rare and listed in the Red Book. The population of huge grasshoppers is very small and sparse. In the future, if certain measures are not taken, this unique creature can completely disappear from the face of the Earth.
The main factors negatively affecting the number of steppe dykes are the destruction of their own kind. A certain share of the blame for the extinction lies with the steppe ridges themselves. They have a rather warlike character and there is a phenomenon of cannibalism. Also, the development of wildlife by man. Many territories that belong to the natural habitat of grasshoppers are actively developed by people. Because of this, animals lose their places to live and reproduce.
Another reason — environmental changes on the planet. Dirty air, bad water, soil – all this cannot positively affect the number of insects. Also, a gradual change in climatic conditions has a certain influence. Fell dry grass. Because of this, many rare species of animals are dying. Recently, they are trying to fight this phenomenon, urging people not to burn the grass. In some countries, there are even fines for burning dry grass.
Protection of prairie groves
To date, a depressing situation can be traced – the total number of steppe dykes is inexorably declining. For this reason, the animal was listed in the Red Book and recognized as rare. It is believed that the most basic limiting factor is the process of development of feather grass steppes by man. Indeed, human activity has had a detrimental effect on the total number of animals, but it has not become fatal.
The destruction of the natural habitat has drastically reduced the number of insects and fragmented the population. However, the fragmentation of the population cannot be considered a significant factor leading to the extinction of animals that are inherent in the parthenogenetic mode of reproduction. Steppe dybka do not need steam to prolong their kind and lay eggs. Scientists have found that the use of insecticides brings the greatest harm to the population of grasshoppers.
Due to the rapid decline in the number of steppe dykes, this animal has become protected. In Russia, it is carefully protected in the territories of various reserves: Bashkir, Zhigulevsky, and others. However, this is definitely not enough to preserve and increase the population of steppe dykes. To save this animal from extinction, it is necessary to completely abandon insecticides and carefully protect the remaining territories of the natural habitat of the steppe horse.
The steppe horse is a cute and very interesting insect. He can be called an excellent hunter and master of disguise. During the day, in dense vegetation, not everyone can notice even such a huge grasshopper. Unfortunately, today the number of steppe dykes is declining. This means that people should pay more attention to these animals and try to protect their species as much as possible from the impact of various limiting factors.