Everything About Grasshopper


A picture of a Katydid
Photo by:
John Dudak/Phototake NYC
Grasshopper, common name for any of the winged orthopteran insects with hind legs adapted for jumping. They include the longhorned grasshoppers, pygmy grasshoppers, and shorthorned grasshoppers, or locusts. They subsist on vegetation and are distributed worldwide wherever vegetation grows.

Grasshoppers are 3 to 13 cm (1 to 5 in) long when fully grown. They develop by gradual metamorphosis: The nymph is initially wingless and gradually comes to resemble the adult as it grows through progressive molts. Only the adults can fly. Some species undergo seasonal color changes, being green at some times and red or brown at others. Grasshoppers are closely related to crickets, and male grasshoppers make chirping or stridulating noises similar to those produced by crickets. Females of several species also make sounds. Unlike true crickets and longhorned grasshoppers, shorthorned grasshoppers chirp by rubbing their hind legs or forewings against other parts of their bodies. The eardrums of shorthorned grasshoppers are clear, circular areas located on the abdomen at a point just behind the junction of the hind legs with the body. The hearing organs of longhorned grasshoppers and crickets are located on the forelegs.

Pygmy grasshoppers are the smallest grasshoppers and are characterized by a greatly elongated dorsal shield, a backward extension of the thorax. Longhorned grasshoppers are characterized by antennae that extend beyond the hind end of the body when they are folded back. Females usually lay their eggs in low bushes or in crevices in the bark of trees. Longhorned grasshoppers include the katydids; the meadow grasshoppers, which are slightly less than 3 cm (1 in) long; and the so-called Mormon cricket found in the western United States, which was common near the early Mormon settlement in Salt Lake City, Utah, and did much damage to crops there.

Shorthorned grasshoppers, also known as true grasshoppers, are named for their relatively short antennae. A common species, the American grasshopper, is about 10 cm (about 4 in) long when fully grown. In the fall, females lay their eggs in holes in the ground. The eggs hatch in the spring, and the young reach maturity in July or August. When some shorthorned grasshoppers reproduce too rapidly for their food supply to support them, subsequent generations undergo extensive changes in form and become migratory. Such shorthorned grasshoppers are known as locusts.

Scientific classification: Grasshoppers belong to the order Orthoptera. Longhorned grasshoppers make up the family Tettigoniidae. The Mormon cricket is classified as Anabrus simplex. Pygmy grasshoppers make up the family Tetrigidae. Shorthorned grasshoppers make up the family Acrididae. The American grasshopper is classified as Schistocerca americana.

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