John Capinera (352) 392-1901, ext. 111
GAINESVILLE—When the Gators won the national football championship, suddenly “official” thingamajigs of the University of Florida Gators were popping up everywhere.
Now comes the official grasshopper.
Yes, folks, Pardalophora phoenicoptera, in an animal kingdom tribute to greater Gator glory this championship season, is the official grasshopper of the Florida Gators.
Or so say some entomologists at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Gung ho Gator fan Jason Squitier, an entomology graduate student, brought the Gator-colored grasshopper to the attention of Professor John Capinera, chairman of the Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Capinera jokingly called it the Gator grasshopper and the name stuck, Squitier said.
With its orange and blue gams, orange hind wings and mottled torso that looks a little like alligator hide, Pardalophora phoenicoptera is a fitting mascot, Squitier and Capinera say.
While its nickname is new, the grasshopper is not. Pardalophora phoenicoptera has always been around throughout most of the states of the Southeastern Conference. A true-blue (and orange) fan, it has always worn its Gator-colored appendages proudly.
While it would no doubt cheer the football team if it could, its life cycle limits it to attendance for baseball and other spring sports.
Capinera says there is no garnet and gold counterpart to the Gator grasshopper, keeping in-state rivalry to a minimum in the fields the grasshoppers call home.
And being nicknamed the Gator grasshopper has other advantages, too. After all, only entomologists can say Pardalophora phoenicoptera.