With over 165 species, Slovenia has an exceptional diversity of grasshoppers, crickets and bush-crickets. In 2018 we will organise a special Grasshopper Study Tour to learn more about these interesting animals.
We plan this tour for a small group of between 5 and 8 participants. Since we aim for an international group, we expect to speak mainly English. However, since the guide also speaks Dutch and German, we can accommodate a multilingual group as well.
Participants from any country are welcome but should arrange own flight ticket to Ljubljana Airport, Slovenia.
135 € per person
Our Grasshopper Study Tour is a special type of nature-holiday, in which we learn how to identify grasshoppers and how we can study them. While doing this, we make a practical contribution to the knowledge of Slovenian grasshoppers because we collect data on their distribution, where needed with photographs as a proof. During this tour, we specifically aim to collect data on three endangered species:
Of course, we are outside most of the time and we will have as much time as we want to take pictures. And we visit some of Slovenia’s nicest nature areas with a very diverse landscape.
The Grasshopper Study Tour will start on the 17th of July and end on the 24th of July 2018. This is the best season for grasshoppers in Slovenia when most early species are still present and those which are hatching later are already becoming adult.
Please note that taking any plants or animals from nature is not permitted during this tour. We may catch some animals for identification purposes, photograph them and then release them back to nature where they were caught. The data which are collected during the tour will be included in the Slovenian database that they can be used in planning future conservation actions.
The first three days are meant as a general introduction to the diversity of grasshoppers of Slovenia. On days 4-6 we will be searching and counting rare species. During these days we will see many other species as well as very diverse and nice landscapes. The last day we move high up into the mountains, where we encounter some typical grasshoppers which we did not see earlier during the tour.
Participants should plan their own journey to Slovenia. Ljubljana airport has connections with many international airports. Other nearby airports are Trieste (Italy), Venezia Marco Polo (Italy) and Zagreb (Croatia). There is a good shuttle service available from all major airports (make an early booking for a lower price). This shuttle can bring you to town Unec, where the guide will pick you up and take you to the accommodation.
On this day we will be visiting some extensive, species-rich meadows close to the accommodation as well as mount Slivnica.
Special species: Stauroderus scalaris, Micropodisma salamandra, Miramella irena, Polidoptera littoralis, Decticus verrucivorus, Ephippiger ephippiger (juv) and E. discoidalis (juv), Bicoloriana kuntzeni.
We visit a mountaintop which is a bit over 1000 meter. Here, we find some species which are characteristic for higher altitudes as well as many species which are more widespread.
Special species: Polysarcus denticauda, Arcyptera fusca, Pachytrachis striolatus, Poecilimon elegans, Poecilimon ornatus, on the way Eupholidoptera sp. (juv)
In the morning we will drive on forest roads through part of the largest Central European forest, which extends from Slovenia all the way to the south Balkan. But don’t worry, we don’t plan to drive more than an hour and we also stop on the way.
After about an hour drive we will arrive at a remote mountaintop, where we discovered the rare species Illyrican Walking Bush-cricket (Psorodonotus illyricus) during the Butterfly tour in 2017. At the moment there are only four populations of this species known in Slovenia, but few specialists have ever been looking for it.
Today’s aim is to map the distribution of this species on this particular mountaintop: does it occur everywhere or only on part of the open, sunny habitat? This is the first step in assessing the status of this population.
In the afternoon we visit the southern slope of the same mountain, where the same species occurs. Both populations of this flightless species are separated by several kilometres of dense forest.
Special species: Psorodonotus illyricus, Decticus verricivorus, Arcyptera fusca, Psophus stridulus
For many years, it was believed that the species Adriatic Marbled Bush-cricket (Zeuneriana marmorata) was extinct. It was rediscovered almost 20 years ago, first a small population in Italy and then a larger one in Slovenia. With detailed field surveys, several further populations were found in Italy, but they are all very small area and consists of few individuals. The Slovenian population is still the largest we know and consists of over 2000 adults, which is still not much for an insect species. Since 2016 this species is classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Data from the previous years indicate that this population is under a lot of pressure from changing land use and declining. For any conservation actions, it is vital to monitor the status of this species. Today, we aim to count all (!) males in the Slovenian population and to map them carefully, so that we can relate their micro-location with land use. This is possible because of the exceptional properties of the species: in the right weather circumstances, males sing continuously and very loud … Besides Adriatic Marbled Bush-cricket, we will see other grasshopper species which are typical for extensive wet meadows.
Special species: Zeuneriana marmorata, Stethophyma grossum, Parapleurus alliaceus, Conocephalus dorsalis, Ruspolia nitidula (juv), Chrysochraeon dispar.
Slovenia is very small, but diverse in landscape and climate. With an hour drive from our first accommodation, we can already reach the sub-Mediterannean, whith a new set of species.
One of the most peculiar Mediterranean species in this part of Slovenia is Eastern Stone Grasshopper (Prionotropis hystrix). But despite its large size, it is difficult to find because it is well camouflaged and doesn’t move much around. In the past, when much of the Slovenian karst was intensively grazed by sheep, this species was very common. In the 1970’s, grazing was banned in much of the Slovenian karst and the resulting vegetation succession lead to the sharp decline of this species. Nowadays it is very rare in Slovenia, but it remains common in Croatia, where the karst is still grazed.
In the recent years, grazing is re-established in the Karst and it will be interesting to see if this species can recover. Today we search for this species in an area where we found a single individual during the 2017 Butterfly Tour, as well as several other karst areas. On the way, we will encounter many other heat-loving grasshopper species as well.
Special species: Prionotropis hystrix, Tylopsis lilifolia, Acrometopa macropoda, Decticus albifrons, Platycleis spp. Modestiana modesta, Gomphocerippus rufus, perhaps Saga pedo.
On our last field day, we will move to another accommodation in the north-west Slovenia, where we will spend the last night. But before that, we have another exciting day ahead with a whole number of new species, typical for high Alpine areas. As this is not a hiking tour, we will drive on a mountain road to almost 2000 meters altitude.
The scheduled direct flight Ljubljana-Amsterdam departs flight departs at 9.20. therefore, we will have an early rising and make sure that you are well in time to catch your flight! For those who would like to extend their stay in Slovenia: we can take you to the city of Ljubljana after we leave the rest of the group at the airport.
Moderately difficult and occasionally demanding. During the tour, we will walk slowly and stop many times, but terrain can be difficult, rocky and occasionally steep, without real climbing. At other places, it may be muddy and we may encounter dense and thorny vegetation as well. Please make sure that you have good hiking shoes and sturdy trousers!
We will be out all day in sunny weather with temperatures up to, and above 30 oC. Please take a sun-hat and suncream.
During the tour, we stay in countryside hotels and agritourisms, right in the middle of the region which we visit. This way, we limit our daily travelling time and op make the most of our days.
During this tour, we will use a van which has eight seats for participants and one for the driver. The tour guide will also be the driver of the van. This gives us a maximum of flexibility: how long we like to stay at each place, is up to us.