Grasshoppers go home
Thursday 10 November 2022
Bayside has been liaising with Melbourne University to restore local populations of a unique species of Matchstick Grasshoppers discovered at Bay Road Heathland Sanctuary by Bayside wildlife photographer and 2021 Australia Day Environmental Award recipient, John Eichler.
John posted a record of the Vandiemenella Matchstick Grasshopper on iNaturalist app where it was discovered by researchers from the University of Melbourne.
The researchers decided to visit Bayside heathlands with Council officers and Friends groups to investigate whether these locations would be suitable release sites to ensure ongoing survival of this important indigenous species.
The Matchstick Grasshopper was considered extinct in the area previous to John’s discovery and researchers have found that the Bayside species has a unique DNA.
The grasshoppers thrive in sunny areas with low indigenous groundcovers and unlike most insects, are active in winter so also become an important part of the food chain, providing a food source for local bird species.
Our ecological burning program creates the ideal habitat for them as it removes tea-tree canopy and restores mosaic areas of low heathland species that provide the indigenous flowers and other vegetation that the grasshoppers like to eat.
Thanks to John’s discovery, there are now several new populations of this special insect happily thriving in three of Bayside’s bushland reserves and contributing to improving local biodiversity.
Photo by Pauline Reynolds