Page last updated at 09:54 GMT, Friday, 23 October 2009 10:54 UK

Stowaway grasshopper is UK first

Painted grasshopper (Defra)

A lone grasshopper never before seen in the UK arrived on a flight into Stansted Airport last week.

The so-called painted grasshopper (Poekilocerus pictus) arrived from India, where it is known as crop-munching pest.

The 6cm-long insect sports bright blue and yellow colours to warn potential predators that it is not all that tasty a treat.

The specimen was identified by the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera).

"The visitor has a voracious appetite and rapidly ate its way through a cabbage plant in the quarantine lab," said Fera entomologist Chris Malumphy.

"Grasshoppers can consume green forage roughly eight times as fast as cattle in proportion to their weight."

Fera said that animal stowaways are not at all uncommon, and insects imported accidentally or otherwise can pose a significant risk to crops if they end up in the local ecosystem.

However, the lone visitor will not be able to reproduce, and Fera said it would have been unlikely to survive the UK climate - meaning it poses none of the dangers it does at home.

"This insect is an economic pest in Pakistan and India where it is reported damaging a number of food plants including aubergine, citrus, cucurbits, potatoes and tomatoes," Dr Malumphy said.

Print Sponsor

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2016 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific