- A-Z Animals
Grasshoppers are ground-dwelling insects that have powerful hind legs, allowing them to escape from threats by jumping over long distances. Some grasshoppers change color and behavior, forming swarms at high population densities, and become locusts under certain environmental conditions.
They have a long relationship with humans. As these insects are herbivorous, they become severe pests of foodstuffs like cereals and vegetables, destroying crops over broad areas. Swarms of locusts have devastating effects and cause famine, doing so since Biblical times.
Over 11,000 species of grasshoppers exist worldwide. However, there may be more unknown species yet to be discovered. These are some of the commonly recognized ones:
Size: Length: 2-4 inches (5-10 cm)
Body and Coloration: Grasshoppers have a typical insect body plan consisting of a head, a thorax, and an abdomen. The head has two compound eyes for broad vision, three simple eyes to detect light and dark, thread-like antennae to sense touch and smell, and a mouth at the bottom made for chewing.
The thorax and abdomen are divided into three and eleven segments, respectively. Their cuticle is rigid and made up of chitin. The thoracic segments have three pairs of legs, with claws for gripping and two pairs of wings, the forewings being narrow and leathery while the hindwings are large and membranous.
The abdomen contains the tympanal organ and hearing system. In females, the last two segments have reproductive organs leading to females being generally bigger than the males.
These insects range in color from green to olive or brown, with yellow or red markings.
They are found globally, with more diverse species found in tropical parts of the world. For instance, lubber grasshoppers inhabit the Americas, while those belonging to the Lentulidae and Lathiceridae reside in Africa.
These insects populate nearly all terrestrial habitats, such as deserts, grasslands, mountains, savannahs, tropical forests, and even aquatic ones.
On average, a grasshopper lives for a year.
Herbivorous in nature, these insects feed on grass, flowers, stems, but prefer green leaves. Some of them have been noted to eat feces and dead animals during periods of scarcity.
Every stage in a grasshopper’s life is fraught with peril from predators. Beetles and parasitoids like blowflies attack the eggs, while insects like ants and robber flies, spiders, and several species of birds and mammals feed on hoppers and adults.
Male and female grasshoppers mate at the start of fall. To attract a mate, males begin to stridulate, alternating between a courtship song and a tune to ward off potential rivals. Males then fertilize the females, laying the eggs in a suitable location in the soft earth.
After some weeks, the eggs of most grasshoppers go into diapause and overwinter in this stage. Growth resumes as soon as the ground warms above a specific threshold temperature. The embryos in a pod generally all hatch out within a few minutes of each other. They soon shed their membranes, and their exoskeletons harden. Grasshoppers repeatedly molt, with each instar becoming larger and more like an adult, with the wing-buds increasing in size at each stage. The number of instars varies between species but is often six. After the final molt, the wings are inflated and become fully functional.
As per the IUCN, several species of grasshopper are at risk of extinction due to intensive agriculture, tourists, and wildfires.
Generally, they don’t but if they are in swarms or feel threatened, they may do so.
Yes, they can fly and are in fact capable of long-distance travel via flight.
Yes, grasshoppers are symbols of good luck throughout the world. If a dead grasshopper shows up on your porch, it is considered extremely unlucky.
While they are in the same order, the two are different species. An easy way to distinguish them comes from their antennae. Crickets have longer antennae, while those of grasshoppers are shorter.
No, like other insects, grasshoppers show bilateral symmetry.
Males of certain species die shortly after mating, while females die after egg-laying, which may last until the beginning of winter.