Grasshoppers are the commonly found insects, which belong to order Orthopterahe and suborder Caelifera. These are among the oldest herbivorous insects as they were present almost 250 million years ago.
There are more than 11,000 species of grasshoppers and nearly 375 species are native to North America. Usually, grasshoppers are green or brown, yet a few species also have yellow and black patterns.
These ground-dwelling organisms have strong hind legs. As a result, they can leap faster when escaping predators. Grasshoppers are Hemimetabolous insects, they don’t pass through a complete metamorphosis process.
Types of Grasshoppers
Technically, there are two major types of grasshoppers. This particular division depends on the difference between the lengths of their antennae.
These two types are:
- Short-horned grasshoppers
- Long-horned grasshoppers
These grasshoppers belong to the order Orthoptera and the family Acrididae. The antennae of this species are short yet heavy. The females of this group own 4-valved ovipositor. This helps them to lay eggs.
The tarsi of the female consist of three segments. These grasshoppers are herbivorous. Their length ranges from 5mm-11 cm. They are mostly green in color, which makes it easier for them to camouflage.
They also possess long femurs and hind legs. These legs are extremely strong, which allows grasshoppers to make huge jumps.
The majority of these grasshoppers come with wings but there are certain species that don’t have wings. Hence, these grasshoppers are flightless. The male grasshoppers with wings can make certain noises.
This serves as a way to attract female grasshoppers of a similar species. A female can lay over 100 eggs. She normally buries them under the sand.
Below are the most common types of short-horned grasshoppers.
- Slant-Faced Grasshoppers
- Spur-Throated Grasshoppers
- Band-Winged Grasshoppers
These types of grasshoppers come from the subfamily Acridinae. They have distinctive slanted faces. They are commonly found in marshes and wet meadows.
These grasshoppers are always seen in small numbers. Hence, they tend to cause no or little damage to the crops and vegetation.
Generally, this species likes to feed on small plants or grasses. This subfamily contains a large number of other species. Each of these species has its own feeding patterns and preferences.
These species are among the popular types of grasshoppers in the Northern parts of America. The spur-throated grasshoppers come in an array of colors i.e. green, red, brown, orange, and yellow.
A few of the species show bright hues and small spots on their bodies. They also have a pair of slender antennae on their head. The females can lay no more than 20 eggs.
She buries these eggs in the sand during the winter season. The nymphs start to mature at the start of summer. Usually, spur-throated grasshoppers like meadows and open fields.
They have strong wings, which allow them to fly huge distances. These are referred to as the most destructive species. The spur-throated grasshoppers are further divided into these types.
- Lubber Grasshopper
- Migratory Grasshoppers
Locusts come from the order Orthoptera. These species are found nearly anywhere in the world (except Antarctica). They live and move in swarms. Due to their huge numbers, they can prove to be highly destructive.
Naturally, locusts prefer living solitarily. However, there are certain changes in their habits and moods, which provoke them to live in swarms. Locusts are capable of breeding at a much faster pace.
This results in a dramatic increase in their numbers. Just like other species, locusts lack wings as nymphs. However, with maturity, they grow huge wings and form large groups known as swarms.
The adults charge towards the crops and vegetation. It takes a few hours for them to destroy such vegetation. Locusts are the fastest species of grasshoppers when it comes to flying from one place to another.
The Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is a species of locusts, which is responsible for devastating thousands of acres of agricultural fields. In past, these insects have caused disasters across the Middle-East, Africa, and Asia.
Recent research has shown that the Schistocerca species that are seen in the United States have been descended from desert locusts. These were the ancestors of modern-day locust species, which is known to cross the Atlantic Ocean nearly 4 to 5 million years ago.
The lubber grasshoppers are native to the Southeastern parts of the USA. They are relatively large and attractive. They are easy to identify due to their body hues.
They are known to destroy vegetable crops. Unlike other species, lubber grasshoppers fly slowly. In addition, they like to crawl most of the time.
Due to this behavior, they are termed as “lubber”, which is a word from old English meaning lazy. The length of these grasshoppers ranges from 5 to 7 cm.
Most of them have red-colored wings with black borders. A few of them are also popular as buffalo grasshoppers. These species are smaller and have pink wings.
These grasshoppers are common in North America. They like different types of habitats such as meadows and grasslands. Migratory grasshoppers can be either herbivorous or forbivorous.
They are considered a serious threat to vegetation and food crops. These grasshoppers can even destroy huge grasslands.
They inherit their habit of migration, which is why they don’t settle at one location. After munching on an area, they migrate to another destination offering a lot of vegetation.
Band-winged grasshoppers belong to the subfamily Oedipodinae. They possess colorful hindwings, which consist of red, black, and yellow hues.
Among the other short-horned grasshoppers, these particular species are capable of producing sounds. While flying, these grasshoppers can make crackling sounds.
When not flying, they cover colorful hindwings with the forewings. As a result, they can easily blend into the surroundings. In case of a threat, they bring out their bold wings.
The Carolina grasshopper is among the most popular Band-winged grasshoppers. There is another type of this species, which is referred to as the clear-winged grasshoppers.
These grasshoppers were previously popular as bush cricket. The long-horned grasshoppers come from the family “Tettigoniidae”. There are over 6,000 species of this type of grasshoppers.
They have long horns slender antennae. These grasshoppers can camouflage without much effort. Almost every grasshopper included in this family is green in color.
They have relatively long wings. Long-horned species of grasshoppers like to live on shrubs, trees, and bushes. The most distinctive part of these grasshoppers is the location of “tympanum”.
This type of hearing organ is common in every grasshopper, which is located on the abdomen. However, in long-horned species, the tympanum is located at the front legs.
Besides, their antennae contain thin hair and are equal in length to that of their overall body. On the other hand, females have a pointed ovipositor.
The wings of a female are long and have a distinctive shape. Besides, the male species create a sound by rubbing their wings.
They perform this activity before mating, as it assists a male to attract the female of its species. Each of the species of long-horned grasshoppers has its own distinctive song.
The eggs of the long-horned grasshoppers don’t hatch during winter. The nymphs come out during the early summer. They grow into an adult in the midsummer and start to mate at this stage.
Katydid grasshoppers are popular for their large hind legs. They have extraordinary long antennae. Besides, the female owns a thick and curvy ovipositor.
The scientific name of this particular species is “Pterophylla Camelifolia”. Each of the species has its distinctive song. These grasshoppers make noise by stridulation and rubbing their wings simultaneously.
You can hear katydids sing when they are looking for a suitable mate. Besides, they can also make noises when trying to defend their territory.
These grasshoppers can be as long as 6 cm. However, one species of Katydid grasshoppers can grow up to 12 cm. They usually display a brighter green hue. Nevertheless, there are certain species that come in yellow and pink colors.
Katydid grasshoppers are poor flyers. Hence, they prefer to walk or hop most of the time. There are certain species, which completely lack wings.
These grasshoppers also belong to Tettigoniidae family. They are available in both small and medium size. They are usually found near the water bodies i.e. ponds, streams, and lakes.
You can also see them in the least maintained pastures and meadows. Furthermore, their small body keeps them lighter. They spend most of their life by staying on the aquatic plants.
Surprisingly, they can stay underwater for several minutes. When developing, the meadow grasshoppers pass through different stages.
These grasshoppers create a sound different from katydid grasshoppers. They produce “rrrr” sound while mating or attracting their female counterparts.
Normally, they come in green color, yet they are also available in purple-grey or brown color. They also have distinctive stripes around the eyes.
As the name suggests, these grasshoppers possess a cone-shaped head. They have a light brown or green color. Their slender body is as long as 4 cm.
They have strong jaws, which they also use as a defense mechanism. While trying to catch a cone-headed grasshopper, it may bite. Their preferred habitat includes weeds and grasslands.
Just like other long-headed grasshoppers, this particular species also sing their respective song. Such song comprises of a single note. They repeat this note to create a melody.
Cone-Headed grasshoppers are normally found in warmer areas of central and southern Europe. The two subfamilies of this species include:
- Acrida ungarica ungarica
- Acrida ungarica mediterranea
These grasshoppers resemble crickets. They come in different lengths ranging between 18 to 50 mm. The most common colors include brown and black.
Besides, some of these species are also available in green shades. Usually, the shield-back katydids have shorter wings. A few species lack wings, which means they can’t fly.
Mormon cricket is one of these species that are flightless. Hence, they hop when moving from one place to another. This type of grasshopper is native to Western parts of North America.
They prefer to live in open lands, farmlands, and forests. The summer is the ideal season for these grasshoppers. They mate during this time of the year. Females lay eggs before winter.
They have a different feeding preference, as they feed on other insects. Besides, they can also eat plants. Unlike other species, the shield-back katydid passes through a complete metamorphosis.
After hatching, they are small in size and don’t have wings. They also lack sexual parts. Once they reach adulthood, the sexual organs and wings start to appear.
Also popular as “Grouse Locusts”, pygmy grasshoppers are extremely tiny. They are available in brown, grey, and green colors. Either this species has small forewings or they lack these wings.
They don’t have hearing or sound-producing organs. These are the features, which distinguish them from both the short-horned and long-horned species.
Talking about the habitat, these grasshoppers are commonly found in muddy shores and grassy fields. These are among the most active species of grasshoppers. They don’t even sleep during the night.
Brown-spotted grasshopper: This species is called the brown-spotted grasshopper because of its dark brown or black color with light brown spots. They can grow to be anywhere from 1.5 inches long to 4 inches long depending on age and time of year. They prefer dry conditions in meadows and pastures so they can easily spot predators in the distance. Brown-spotted grasshoppers eat a variety of food including clover, alfalfa and ragweed.
Green-striped grasshoppers: This species is often called the green-striped locust, but they are a grasshopper. They have a dark brown or black color with green stripes which give them their name. They can be anywhere from 1.5 inches to 4 inches long depending on age and time of year. Green-striped grasshoppers prefer marshy areas near ponds where they feed on plants such as cattails and reeds.
Big-headed grasshopper: This type of grasshopper has a large head compared to its body along with long hind legs for jumping. Some common names for this species include buffalo hopper and leopard bug because of their appearance similar to that of a buffalo or leopard. Big-headed grasshoppers are usually brown with dark spots and stripes. They can grow to be anywhere from 1 to 3 inches long depending on age and time of year. This species is found in meadows, pastures or other grasslands but they also commonly feed on corn, cowpeas, clover, alfalfa and ragweed.
Four-spotted grasshopper: This type of grasshopper has four light spots on its back that are often difficult to see unless it moves. It is transparent greenish-yellow with a dark stripe down the middle of its back. The 4-spotted grasshopper grows up to 2 inches long and can be found in open areas such as fields or gardens. This species has a varied diet and will feed on crops such as soybeans, alfalfa and corn along with many garden plants.
Red-legged grasshoppers: get their name from the red color on their legs. They are usually dark green or brown with light-colored stripes running across their wings and bodies. These types of grasshoppers can grow up to 3 inches long and prefer dry meadows, pastures and even roadsides. They eat a variety of different plants including clover, ragweed, cowpeas, corn and many others depending on location season.
Two-striped grasshopper: This species of grasshopper has a bright green color with two black stripes running across its back. They are typically 1 to 2 inches long but can grow up to 3 inches long. They are usually found in open areas such as meadows, fields or roadsides where they eat many different food sources depending on the season including clover, ragweed, corn and soybeans.
Packard grasshopper: is a bulky type of grasshopper that varies in color from dark brown to light green. It also has several yellow spots along its body and wings which give it its name. Packard grasshoppers can be anywhere from 1.5 inches to 4 inches long and like very dry areas such as meadows, pastures or roadsides. These grasshoppers eat many different plants including clover, ragweed and alfalfa.
Chinese grasshopper: is known for its distinct black and white spots on both its wings and body. It also has bright red antennae and legs with dark brown and green color patterns covering the rest of its body. Chinese grasshoppers typically grow up to 1 inch long but can reach 2 inches during mating season. They are found in open fields, meadows or forests where they will feed on corn leaves, clover and other plants depending on location and time of year.
Grey bird grasshopper: The grey bird grasshopper is a rare species that has gray wings, legs and a body with light brown markings. They can be anywhere from 1.5 inches to 4 inches long depending on the time of year. This type of grasshopper prefers wet areas such as marshes and riverbanks where they feed on cattails, reeds and other water plants. Picture:
Differential grasshopper: This species of grasshopper has very contrasting colors with bright green wings and red or black spots covering its body. It also has white stripes running along the sides of its legs as well as yellow. Individuals vary between bright green, orange and even the rare white . They are slightly smaller than other types of grasshoppers averaging 1.5 inches long but can grow up to 2.5 inches. This species is found in wet open areas such as marshes, riverbanks or swamps where they feed on cattails, reeds and sedges depending on location season.
Pallid-winged grasshopper: This type of grasshopper has two different forms during its lifetime; one with green wings and another with pale grey wings giving it its name. It also has brown markings covering its body including spots around the top of its head. Pallid-winged grasshoppers are typically 1 inch long but can grow up to 1.5 inches long. This type of grasshopper lives in open fields or meadows where they feed on corn, clover and other plants depending on location season.
Painted grasshopper: is a species that has red and white spots covering its body as well as bright green wings with red stripes down the middle. These types of grasshoppers can be anywhere from 1 inch to 3.5 inches long and prefer to live in wet areas such as marshes, riverbanks or swamps where they eat cattails, reeds and sedges depending on location season. They look like this:
Spotted grasshopper: are known for their bright green wings and two black stripes running across their back. They also have several yellow spots on the top of their head, thorax and legs. These grasshoppers are typically 1 to 2 inches long but can grow up to 3 inches long. Spotted grasshoppers prefer open areas such as meadows, fields or roadsides where they will feed on many different plants including clover, ragweed and corn. Image:
Classification of Grasshoppers
Listed below is the classification of Grasshoppers.
Physical Features of Grasshoppers
Talking about the appearance of a grasshopper, it slightly differs in size. Usually, the length of an adult grasshopper ranges from 1 to 7 cm. Since they are closely related to crickets, there are certain similarities between both these species.
A few of the similar features include:
- Chewing mouthparts
- Two pairs of wings
- Long hind legs
Grasshoppers have large eyes and colored bodies, which allows them to blend in with the environment. There are a few species where the males have bright-colored wings.
Some grasshoppers are capable of eating toxic plants. They store these toxins in their bodies to protect them against predators. Apart from their bad taste, predators also avoid them due to their bright and vivid colors.
Just like other insects, the male grasshoppers are smaller than the females. Females also have sharp edges at the end of their abdomen. This helps them to dig the soil for laying their eggs.
Males have specific structures close to their wings. They make certain sounds by rubbing their hind legs with such structures.
The biggest known grasshopper is the Giant Weta. It is 4 inches long. Due to their large size and additional weight, these grasshoppers aren’t able to hop as the others do.
On the other hand, Pygmy Grasshoppers are the smallest grasshoppers found around the globe. They are only 0.6 inches long. They are so tiny that sometimes it is difficult to recognize them.
The grasshopper’s head appears similar to a capsule. It contains some large and strong muscles, which help the grasshopper while chewing the leaves. Some species can even bite when disturbed.
The brain (Subesophageal ganglion) is located in the upper midsection. Being the central nervous system, the brain controls all other parts of the body. There are two compound eyes and a pair of antennae.
Believe it or not, grasshoppers have five eyes. Two of these are the compound eyes, while three are the simple eyes referred to as “Ocelli”. The compound eyes are large, which are located on both sides of the head.
The simple eyes are located between the compound eyes. The Compound eyes work with help of “Ommatidia”. These parts are in numbers and collectively constitute a single compound eye.
Each of the “Ommatidia” consists of an independent lens. Collectively, they take small portions of light and send the signals to the brain. As a result, all the tiny images are merged to form a big and actual image.
On the other hand, simple eyes are capable of differentiating between light and dark. This is the function, which the compound eyes are unable to perform. Both these types of eyes have their respective tasks.
The sensory organs are spread throughout the body of a grasshopper. First, the antenna and palps located on their head are sensitive to touch. They also have receptors on their legs and abdomen.
Surprisingly, the taste buds of a grasshopper are located in its mouth. In addition, a grasshopper can smell things with the help of its antennae. They don’t have ears, yet grasshoppers can hear.
There is a tympanal organ located inside the front part of the abdomen. This is connected with the thorax, which helps to absorb sound waves. These vibrations are then processed by the brain.
In this way, a grasshopper can listen to the surrounding sounds.
This is the middle part or main section of a grasshopper’s body. It consists of three segments that are fused together. These include:
There is a pair of legs attached to each of these segments. The 2nd segment bears two forewings known as tegmina. The 3rd segment contains two membranous wings.
The femur area of the hind legs is relatively large and strong. It contains big muscles, which help a grasshopper to make giant leaps.
Life Cycle of Grasshoppers
During its development phase, a grasshopper passes through different stages. The life cycle of this insect consists of three stages. These include:
Due to three instead of four stages, a grasshopper is said to have an incomplete metamorphosis. Each of these stages just adds a few changes to the appearance of the grasshopper.
These changes appear when the grasshopper changes its skin after some time. Below we have discussed all these three stages of this insect’s life cycle.
Being the first stage, this is the most crucial one. A female lays eggs in the summer and hides them under the rotten leaves or sand. These eggs are already fertilized, which continue to develop into a nymph under favorable conditions.
The female sprays some sticky semi-liquid material on her eggs. This helps to harden the eggs and add a protective layer around them. This small collection of eggs is known as POD. Usually, a female can make 25 PODs.
There are 10 to 300 eggs in each POD. The number of eggs laid by a female grasshopper depends on its species. During winter and autumn, the eggs don’t develop. They stay underneath the protective layer.
Once the temperature rises, these eggs start to develop. After hatching, a small grasshopper named “Nymph” comes out of the egg.
This is the second stage of a grasshopper’s life cycle. After hatching from the egg, the Nymph starts its life as a tiny grasshopper. A nymph doesn’t have reproductive organs and wings.
During this stage, the Nymph sheds its skin at least five times. This process is referred to as “Moulting”. With each Moulting, the nymph undergoes some physical changes.
In order to survive, a nymph feeds on soft plant leaves. This particular stage lasts for 5 to 6 weeks.
After a nymph completely transforms into an adult, it starts the third and final stage of its life cycle. During this stage, the wings of a grasshopper develop. This might take a month or so.
The overall lifespan of a grasshopper is almost one year. During this stage, the adults can mate. The female lays eggs. In some species, she can continue to lay eggs for four days.
After laying her eggs, most of the females die. After reaching the adult stage, a grasshopper can live for 1 to 2 months.
Habitat of Grasshoppers
Grasshoppers can live in almost all types of habitats. They can adapt to different environments i.e. tropical forests, deserts, savannahs, mountains, and grasslands.
In some cases, grasshoppers prefer specialized habitats. This is so, as they have adapted to such environment and habitat. For instance, the South American grasshoppers (Pauliniidae) can actively swim.
Hence, they like to feed on vegetation that floats on water. They also lay their eggs within the branches of aquatic plants.
Diet of Grasshoppers and their Feeding Behavior
Most of the grasshoppers are “Polyphagous”. This suggests they can feed on several species of plants. The growth and health of these grasshoppers rely on the diversity in their meal.
According to some studies, grasshoppers relying on multiple plant species can grow faster and live healthier life. However, grasshoppers tend to feed on readily available plants.
Sometimes, they avoid going to a new feeding patch that is located at a reasonable distance. Hence, they continue to feed on the nearest available vegetation.
When it comes to feeding behavior, grasshoppers tend to be quite selective. Their selection involves a wide range of aspects including the hardness and size of a leaf.
Mainly the diet of a grasshopper consists of
- Various types of grasses
- Broadleaf weeds
- Different types of herbs
- Broadleaf plants
- Pokeweed plants
While looking for a preferred food, a grasshopper usually depends on the olfactory cues and its visual capacity. They don’t start to eat the plant immediately.
First, they test the plant. After biting a leaf, they receive different sets of information through various sensillae. These are located at their antennal tip. If the plant is suitable, they start munching on it.
Grasshoppers may continue to feed on a specific type of plant as long as it satisfies their nutrient needs. Hence, the physical and chemical properties of a plant can influence the feeding behavior of a grasshopper.
How Do Grasshoppers Breed?
Just like other living organisms, grasshoppers reproduce through mating. This involves the sexual activities of both the male and female grasshoppers. The complete breeding process of a grasshopper is discussed below.
The male grasshopper has testes, which is a reproductive organ. This is the part, which contains spermatocyte cells. These are actually stored in the shape of packages.
On the other hand, the female grasshopper contains different reproductive organs. These include ovipositor and ovaries.
The ovipositor serves as a canal through which a female lays her eggs. In addition, it is also the entry point for the male reproductive organ. The ovaries are the organs, which contain eggs.
This is the most crucial phase of mating. During this process, the male mounts the female. After that, the male inserts or enters its aedeagus into the ovipositor of such a female grasshopper.
Then, the male will deliver the spermatophore into the ovipositor of the female. This is a type of packet, which contains the sperm. A single sperm can fertilize many eggs.
After the eggs have been fertilized, the female grasshopper is all set to lay her eggs. With a special horn-like structure at the end of her abdomen, the female starts digging a small hole in the ground.
After that, she enters her ovipositor in that hole and starts laying eggs. The eggs are released in the shape of a group known as POD. A female can lay numerous PODs during the egg-laying process.
This POD is protected from external elements through a material that the female secrets while laying her eggs. This material hardens after some time.
The breeding period for grasshoppers starts before the winter. The eggs will start to hatch after the weather begins to warm a bit. Hence, in warmer areas, the eggs can hatch much earlier.
However, in colder areas, the eggs can take nine months to hatch. Besides, a few female grasshoppers don’t choose soil for laying their eggs.
Some do prefer areas where the nymphs can easily find food after hatching. For instance, the commonly seen green grasshopper lays her eggs around the base of the grasses.
On the other hand, some grasshoppers prefer vegetated or bare ground for laying eggs. Another grasshopper named “White-whiskered” chooses the grassroots for laying the eggs.
How do Grasshoppers Behave?
Just like most of the other insects, the grasshopper stays active during the day. This is so, as the grasshoppers are cold-blooded animals. They absorb the sunlight to warm up their bodies.
Even in the morning they stand still and wait for the sun to rise and give them the energy to move around. Besides, grasshoppers tend to be ferocious when it comes to feeding.
In addition, grasshoppers don’t make nests. They migrate long distances in search of food. Usually, grasshoppers live a solitary life. However, these grasshoppers only come together during mating.
On the contrary, migratory species live in swarms. These are the large groups, which comprise millions or billions of individual grasshoppers.
The antennae of a grasshopper are quite sensitive. These organs assist the grasshoppers to feel different moments around their bodies. This prevents them from the attacks of predators.
In order to protect themselves, some grasshoppers spit a brown liquid. On the other hand, a grasshopper may also bite the predator with its strong jaws.
Grasshoppers serve as a nutritious food source for a wide range of predators. These include various birds, mammals, spiders, lizards, and various other insect species.
Most of the carnivorous birds prefer to feed on grasshoppers. These insects serve as the most nutritious diet for them. The most common birds that feed on this insect are:
- Blue jays
Spiders are voracious predators and they feed on a variety of animals. Most of the spiders like to eat other small insects. However, there are a few larger spiders, which prefer to eat grasshoppers, frogs, and mice.
Since the snakes are carnivorous, they prefer to feed on other small animals. Larger snake species can prey on rodents, frogs, and lizards. Besides, the small snakes can also eat insects like grasshoppers.
Frogs can eat just any kind of insect. Hence, they are referred to as the best way to control pests in the backyard of a home. These amphibians can eat spiders, butterflies, worms, grasshoppers, and crickets.
Although insects are not commonly seen on the western dining tables, they are quite popular in other parts of the globe. Usually, bugs are part of numerous traditional diets.
These insects are consumed in areas like Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Besides other insects, the grasshoppers are enjoyed in a range of countries including Mexico, Thailand, China, and Uganda.
Is it safe to Eat Grasshoppers?
Talking about the grasshopper, most of their species are edible. Apart from being edible, grasshoppers tend to be delicious. However, not all grasshoppers are safe to eat just like crickets.
The Eastern Lubber is among those grasshoppers that can spray poisonous or toxic chemicals. Consuming these grasshoppers can result in vomiting, nausea, or even death.
In addition, most of the wild grasshoppers have a tendency to contain parasites. Besides, they might have consumed different toxic materials.
If you are planning to cook a grasshopper delicacy, make sure to buy them from a reputable retailer.
They feed during the night. If you try to catch them, they will spit a liquid referred to as “tobacco juice”. This helps to prevent them from attacking predators.
Whether Grasshoppers are different from Crickets?
A variety of Orthoptera species are referred to as crickets. They are members of the family Gryllidae. There are also some other popular names such as:
- Field crickets
- Bush crickets
- Ground crickets
- Tree crickets
These insects are different in shape from grasshoppers. Usually, crickets have smaller body lengths and are bulky in appearance. Most of these crickets are famous for their singing.
Just like other insects, male crickets create different sounds. They have special forewings, which help them to produce a unique sound known as cricket chirp.
Although crickets have wings, yet they like to hop a lot rather than flying. In fact, with the size of the wings they have, it isn’t possible to fly.
Hence, crickets are different from grasshoppers, as they are unable to fly. However, crickets can jump up to twenty times their body length.
In Asian cultures, crickets are enamored as sacred animals. In Japan and China, people keep them in cages to seek amusement from their singing or chirping.
How Beneficial are Grasshoppers for our Ecosystem?
Generally, grasshoppers tend to be highly beneficial for our ecosystem. They play a critical role when it comes to maintaining the natural balance in our environment.
This makes our earth a suitable place for other plants, animals, and humans. They help during the decomposition of the plant material and help their regrowth by giving back essential nutrients to the ground.
In addition, they help to maintain the population of a certain plant by consuming the other type of plant species. This lowers the chances of overgrowth.
Apart from a few species, most of the grasshoppers are quite helpful to increase the fertility of the soil. This is so, as their waste is a perfect source of fertilizer.
On their death, the bodies of grasshoppers also decompose into the soil, which adds essential nutrients to the soil. Besides, grasshoppers serve as an integral part of our food chain.
These insects are quite popular among a wide range of predators i.e. birds, rodents, lizards, etc. These predators serve as a food source for other big animals.
What is Grasshopper Swarm?
Grasshoppers exhibit outstanding eating abilities. Especially, when in a swarm, they prove to be devastating. Normally, grasshoppers prefer to live a solitary life.
They used to eat as well as travel alone. However, due to some unexplained behaviors, grasshoppers start living in groups. They travel in the shape of a large group known as a swarm.
Once they start living a swarm life, they are termed as locusts. Scientists rely on numerous theories to explain such change. A few of them believe that some sort of climate and habitat change lead to this behavior.
Due to a warmer climate, the population of grasshoppers may increase drastically. When a large number of grasshoppers shares a common habitat the food scarcity is a common phenomenon.
In this situation, the grasshoppers start to agitate and join a swarm. These swarms have a long history. Humans have been facing this menace for centuries.
A single swarm can compose of millions of individual insects. After the swarm is airborne, it travels at a great speed. The major target of this swarm is to found ample food sources for the whole population of a swarm.
A swarm may stretch up to miles. They can even block the sunlight. A swarm can cover a distance of several hundred miles in a single day.
They continue to feed on any kind of vegetation that comes their way. In fact, they can devastate the whole crop within a few minutes. The swarm flies with the wind current, which allows them to travel at a faster pace.
Amazing Facts about Grasshoppers
Although grasshoppers are among the most common insects, there are certain facts about them that aren’t so common. Listed below are the most interesting facts associated with grasshoppers.
Ears of a grasshopper are located at its Belly
Unlike other animals, the ears of a grasshopper are found on its abdomen. There are two membranes (one on each side), which vibrate upon receiving sound waves.
This is the simplest form of an eardrum. It is known as a tympanal organ. With the help of this organ, a grasshopper can clearly hear the surrounding sounds.
Grasshoppers are the True Jumpers
Catching a grasshopper isn’t easy. This is so, as they are capable of making giant and abrupt leaps. This feature helps them to flee when they sense a nearby danger.
They are capable of jumping so high due to their strong hind legs. These legs work as a mini catapult. Before making a leap, the grasshoppers contract their huge flexor muscles.
They bend their hind legs slowly. A spring-like part is located within the knee, which is known as a cuticle. When the grasshopper contracts its legs, the cuticle stores the potential energy.
By simply relaxing its muscles, the grasshopper releases the cuticle and all the energy stored in it. This allows the grasshopper to make huge jumps.
Locusts and Grasshoppers aren’t Two Different Insects
Usually, grasshoppers are commonly referred to as locusts. In fact, there are no distinctive features. It won’t be wrong to say that both these terms are used for the same insect.
There are some species of this insect, which are known as grasshoppers while others are called locusts. Both these insects are members of the order Orthoptera.
They are short-horned insects that belong to the suborder Caelifera. On the contrary, the long-horned insects of this order relate to the suborder Ensifera.
Grasshoppers can’t distinguish the Pitch of a Sound
Just like other insects, the ears of a grasshopper are the simplest organs. Hence, they are not capable of judging the pitch of a sound. Grasshoppers can identify different rhythms and intensities.
Before mating, the male grasshopper creates a sound by rubbing its hind legs with the small structures located at the abdomen. This helps to attract the female grasshopper.
The rhythm produced by the grasshoppers can vary depending on the type of species. Such distinctive sound makes it easy for the females to find males of their own species.
Grasshoppers Serve as a major Protein Source
Humans have been consuming grasshoppers and locusts since time immemorial. They serve as a major source of protein for humans and animals.
Grasshoppers are eaten as a regular diet in various areas including Asia, Africa, and America. Apart from protein, grasshoppers are full of numerous other nutrients.
A Grasshopper can Fly Large Distances
Usually, we see grasshoppers jumping here and there. Hence, we don’t even realize that they can fly also. Some species can cover huge distances while flying.
Generally, grasshoppers prefer to fly when they are in search of their food. Different types of grasshoppers like to feed on crops.
This requires them to cover huge distances. Hence, they prefer to fly to those areas with abundant food supplies.
Grasshoppers are Musicians
By rubbing their hind legs with the forewings, grasshoppers create a specific tune. The pegs located at their hind legs serve as the percussion instrument. They create a musical sound that attracts females.
Grasshoppers are a Threat to Food Crops
A grasshopper can eat up to half of its body weight. However, a single grasshopper won’t cause much harm to a plant. On the contrary, when in groups or creating locust swarms, they can prove devastating for the crops.
Grasshoppers can Spit
Some species of grasshoppers spit brown-colored liquid. According to scientists, grasshoppers do this as a method of self-defense. By doing so, they try to repel predators.
Grasshoppers were Present before Dinosaurs
Grasshoppers descended from their ancestors that lived millions of years ago. In fact, they were living on the earth before the advent of dinosaurs.
Grasshoppers tend to be Diurnal Insects
Since grasshoppers are diurnal, they stay active during the day. They normally take rest during the night. Grasshoppers need sunlight for energizing their bodies. However, there are a few species, which also feed during the night.
Frequently Asked Questions about Grasshoppers (FAQs)
Listed below are the most common questions and their answers.
Do Grasshoppers drink water?
Usually, grasshoppers eat the green leaves of a plant. Plant leaves contain a sufficient amount of water content, which meets the needs of a grasshopper.
Is it possible for the grasshoppers and crickets to share a habitat?
Usually, crickets and grasshoppers have different eating habits and preferences. Hence, they don’t fight for their food. So, it is common for both these insects to share a habitat.
Can a grasshopper bite?
Grasshoppers have strong jaws. They use them to cut the leaves and chew them. However, some species of grasshoppers can bite if disturbed. However, their bite isn’t poisonous.
How do grasshoppers defend themselves?
In order to defend themselves, grasshoppers make good use of their body parts. For example, they use their wings to flee when a threat is approaching.
In addition to chewing food, the mouthpart of the grasshopper also helps to bite the predator or anyone how messes with them.
On the other hand, the antennae of grasshoppers help them to sense the environment around them and anticipate the attack of a predator.
How do grasshoppers communicate with each other?
Just like most of the insects, grasshoppers can’t speak. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t communicate with each other.
They do this in two ways i.e. acoustically and visually. Grasshoppers can create sound by rubbing their legs with the forewings. Usually, males make these noises to attract females.
In addition, they also communicate via flapping their hind wings against the forewings. This is done to alarm the other grasshoppers about the approaching threat.
What is the maximum height of a grasshopper’s jump?
Usually, a grasshopper is capable of making huge jumps. They do this by storing potential energy within their hind legs. With this massive energy and strong legs, a grasshopper can jump 10 to 20 times its size.
Smaller grasshoppers can easily hop at a distance of 1 to 1.5 m. Such a huge jump allows grasshoppers to flee when a predator approaches them.
How many groups of grasshoppers are there?
Generally, grasshoppers are divided into two major groups depending on the size of their horns. These include:
- Long-horned grasshoppers
- Short-horned grasshoppers