Amateur Photographer Finds Rare Pink Grasshopper In His Garden In Wales

Published July 6, 2023

One in 500 grasshoppers have the pink coloring mutation, but most people only have a one percent chance of seeing them in their lifetime.

Pink Grasshopper

Gary PhillipsGrasshoppers take on a pink color due to a recessive gene that has carried on throughout generations.

An amateur photographer in Wales was stunned when he saw a hot pink grasshopper at the bottom of his garden — and quickly snapped several photographs.

65-year-old Gary Phillips told the BBC that he was shocked by the “vivid color” of the insect while pruning his dahlias outside his home in Llandegfan, Anglesey.

“I’d never heard of them,” Phillips said. “I had to proper focus on what I’d seen, and realized it was a pink grasshopper, which I thought has got to be rare.”

Phillips’ hunch was right. By some experts’ estimations, the chances of a person seeing a pink grasshopper in their lifetime could be as low as one percent.

“I got one good photo before it began to move,” Phillips told NorthWalesLive. “I then followed it across the lawn on my hands and knees, taking more pictures. At that scale, the grass looks like a forest but I managed to get another good close-up.”

According to Paul Hetherington of the conservation charity Buglife, the insects’ vibrant, pink coloring is the result of a recessive gene passed down from generation to generation. This genetic mutation is known as erythrism, which causes the insect’s body to produce too much red pigment and too little darker pigment.

Hetherington says this vibrant color is “not useful” to the grasshoppers, since the boldness of their pink actually makes them stand out more against the green grass and draw the attention of predators.

But Hetherington isn’t convinced that spotting pink grasshoppers is as difficult as others suggested — especially if you’re actively looking.

“If you look closely for them in any meadow, the chances of seeing them are actually very high,” he told the BBC. Hetherington also noted that he has seen three of them himself.

“It’s amazing to see the beauty of the creatures being appreciated,” he said. “They are just wonderful.”

While it is exciting, Phillips’ story is hardly an isolated incident. In fact, all across the United Kingdom — and in some parts of the United States — there has been a flurry of pink grasshopper sightings.

One woman in Sparkwell, England, for example, recently spotted six of the “eye-catching insects.”

“I only mow the garden once a year so it’s heaving with grasshoppers and moths,” the woman, Becky Crawford-Lanyon, told the Plymouth Herald. “There are gazillions of green grasshoppers and brown ones, but pink ones are now all over the place.”

Crawford-Lanyon added that she had “five in eye-shot all at once” in her garden, then spotted a sixth the next day.

“We know they are rare, that’s why it is exciting to have at least six,” she said. “We are lucky to have so many — it’s wonderful.”

Roughly one in 500 grasshoppers carry the erythrism mutation, although it’s possible that the increase in sightings in recent years could be attributed to the rise of social media, with more people sharing photos of the insects and alerting others to their existence.

The exciting sightings have even made their way to the United States, with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporting in May 2023 that one of these vibrant grasshoppers had been photographed near the Texas Gulf Coast.

The photo was shared by the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on Facebook alongside the caption: “Because these bright pink ‘hoppers are not well-camouflaged, they’re much more likely to be eaten by predators. Good luck, little one!”

Spotting pink grasshoppers in the wild is certainly an exciting and rare experience, but as these sightings show, it’s perhaps a bit more likely than statistics would suggest.

Maybe all it takes is looking just a little bit harder.

After reading about this rare pink grasshopper, check out the real grasshopper that was found stuck in the paint of one of Van Gogh’s masterpieces. Or, for more nature photography, explore the beautiful Montréal Botanical Garden through these 33 photos.

Austin Harvey
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Austin Harvey has also had work published with Discover Magazine, Giddy, and Lucid covering topics on mental health, sexual health, history, and sociology. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Point Park University.
Maggie Donahue
Maggie Donahue is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. She has a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a Bachelor's degree in creative writing and film studies from Johns Hopkins University. Before landing at ATI, she covered arts and culture at The A.V. Club and Colorado Public Radio and also wrote for Longreads. She is interested in stories about scientific discoveries, pop culture, the weird corners of history, unexplained phenomena, nature, and the outdoors.