Grasshoppers are amazing insects with very fascinating characteristics and habits. If anything, their name originates from their habitat and general behavior. “Grass” refers to the insects’ habitat, as they are frequently found in grassy areas, while “hopper” refers to how they move. They have strong hind legs, which enable them to hop or jump long distances quickly.

Grasshoppers are members of the Orthoptera suborder Caelifera, with over 11,000 known species that can be identified by their genetic and physical differences.

Grasshopper Appearance

Grasshoppers have a unique appearance that makes it easy to differentiate them from other insects. They have a large head with sensitive antennae and large compound eyes, providing adequate sensory abilities. Their thorax contains three pairs of legs, powerful hind legs, and often two pairs of wings.

The front pair of wings are leathery, and the hind one is membranous for flight. Their abdomens are divided and accommodate the digestive and reproductive organs. They measure between 2 and 5 inches, with the sizes varying depending on the species.

Grasshopper Social Behavior

Under normal circumstances, grasshoppers are usually solitary, not crowded together, and do not tend to form swarms. Other times, they exhibit gregarious behavior where they form large swarms, which are then called locusts and can cause severe damage to crops.

The Difference between Grasshoppers and Locusts

Locusts are the swarming counterparts of grasshoppers. They form as a reaction to overpopulation and are characterized by increased stimulation of the hind legs, leading to increased serotonin levels. This leads to the grasshopper’s change in color, increased appetite, and faster reproduction.

Do Grasshoppers Bite?

While grasshoppers don’t usually bite humans, they can do so while in large swarms, especially when they feel threatened. Fortunately, grasshoppers aren’t poisonous and don’t pose any threat to people.

Do Grasshoppers Make Noise?

One of the most appealing features of grasshoppers is their ability to “sing.” It is commonly referred to as stridulation and is done by male grasshoppers to show reproductive maturity, among other reasons. The sound is produced by rubbing their hind legs against their forewings, creating “chirp” sounds.

The sounds attract female mates during the breeding season and assert territorial dominance. Grasshoppers also have tactile communication abilities. They can use their antennae and legs to touch and indulge with each other, especially during courtship and mating.

What Do Grasshoppers Eat?

Grasshoppers are mainly vegetarian and feed primarily on some plants, including grasses, leaves, stems, and flowers. They have strong mandibles that allow them to chew tough material and quickly. In a single day, a grasshopper can eat up to half its body weight in plant matter. However, they sometimes eat other dead insects and decaying organic matter.

What Eats Grasshoppers?

Mice, rats, wasps, coyotes, ground beetles, badgers, gophers, and shrews are grasshoppers’ main predators.

Do Grasshoppers Fly?

Grasshoppers are known for their ability to jump over long distances. They push off with their long, strong back legs, which propel them forward to achieve this. These hind legs, adapted for leaping, allow them to escape predators quickly.

These species are also capable of flight. They use their wings to travel greater distances, especially when looking for new habitats or mates.

Grasshopper Breeding and Reproduction

Courtship in grasshoppers involves visual displays, sound production, and, ultimately, physical touch to attract female attention. After mating, the female grasshopper excavates a shallow hole in the ground with her telescopic abdomen’s spade-like ovipositors (egg-depositors).

It deposits a “pod” of roughly fifty eggs near consumable plants and covers the hole with plant matter, soil, or litter. Depending on the temperature, the eggs hatch after approximately three weeks, releasing tiny nymphs with no wings.

After a month or so, these voracious eaters go through four or five molts, also commonly known as incomplete metamorphosis, growing larger each time. Upon their final molt, most species of grasshoppers reveal their adult form, which includes wings. After around two weeks, the adults reach sexual maturity. They then live for an additional six weeks, during which they eat and reproduce (both repeatedly).

If circumstances turn unfavorable, like low temperatures, this cycle can be stopped for weeks or months at almost any point. Generally, eggs laid in the fall may not hatch until the following spring.

How Long Do Grasshoppers Live?

Assuming all conditions are favorable, the average lifespan for grasshoppers is about a year from when they hatch. Once they reach maturity, adults can live up to three months.

Grasshoppers Range and Adaptations

Many grasshoppers have developed the camouflage ability to use colors and patterns that look like the vegetation and soil, allowing them to evade predators. Others display colors so bright that the predators are warned of their toxicity or unpleasant flavor – this is known as aposematism. They can also swiftly hop away or flee to escape the impending danger when threatened.

Grasshoppers are ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals and depend on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature. They bask in the sun to get some heat and seek shade when they need to cool down.

The insects’ activity levels can vary with the season. In tropical regions, they are active during the warmer months and may be dormant or die off in the colder months.

Conclusion

Grasshoppers are fascinating insects with over 11,000 known Caelifera species variations. They survive by primarily eating specific leaves, grasses, stems, and flowers. While they are mainly herbivores, some can feed on dead animals. They do not usually bite humans but can do so whenever they feel threatened in large swarms. Grasshoppers can fly, especially during the mating season or when looking for food.

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