We’re still hopping with hope for large marsh grasshoppers

Blog post by NWT on 01 May, 2024

We are excited to continue our work alongside Citizen Zoo to bring the rare and beautiful large marsh grasshopper back to Norfolk’s landscape. This year we’re hoping to be able to help the species expand its range to the Norfolk Broads - and we’d love your help!

The large marsh grasshopper is not only the UK’s largest grasshopper, but one of its rarest. The adults are a vibrant mix of green and yellow with red legs, making it, arguably, our most attractive grasshopper too.

Despite its size, it is often heard before it is seen. Most grasshoppers stridulate, by rubbing a row of pegs on their hind legs against their wings, this creates their familiar vibrating ‘song’. However, the male large marsh grasshoppers call by flicking their back leg off the edge of their wing, which produces a distinctive loud click.

Formerly found across southern and eastern England, habitat loss restricted the species to a few areas of the New Forest and Dorset. It is dependent upon healthy functioning peatlands and is mostly restricted to valley mires (lowland peatbogs) now in England, although it was formerly found in a wider range of habitats.

The large marsh grasshopper was last seen in East Anglia in 1968, but since 2018 a partnership project involving NWT and led by Citizen Zoo, has seen NWT help release more than 5,000 of these rare grasshoppers across suitable sites in Norfolk.

The partnership called ‘Hop of Hope’ saw Citizen Zoo volunteers, known as ‘Citizen Keepers’ rearing grasshopper nymphs at home from the eggs of a small number of captive adults. The pilot release site is now home to a firmly established and self-sustaining population, and thanks to a recent grant from Natural England’s Species Recovery Programme, we are looking forward to working alongside Citizen Zoo to help broaden this fantastic insect's range further.

Over the coming years the partnership intends to replicate the project’s initial success by carrying out more introductions at suitable wetland sites across the county, including the Norfolk Broads.


Could you be a hopper helper?

The eggs have incubated over winter, and will soon be ready to hatch. Once this happens, hundreds of baby hoppers will be born. We’re calling out for budding conservationists, who have the time and space in their lives and homes to carefully rear a band of baby hoppers to adulthood, ready to be released into the wild later this summer!

Find out more and apply to be a Citizen Keeper here.

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