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The name Grasshopper describes a number of insects that fall under the scientific "suborder" Caelifera, which is in the order Orthoptera. Within this suborder there are over 11,000 species of grasshopper. That's a lot of types of grasshoppers!
Like all insects the grasshopper has six legs, a head, thorax, and abdomen. It also has an exoskeleton which is a hard outer surface that protects its softer insides. They have two pairs of wings. The back wings are larger while the front wings are small and fairly hard. Their back legs are large helping them to jump.
They are normally brown in color, but they can vary in color including yellowish brown, reddish brown, and light green. Some are even striped.
These insects live all around the world except where it is too cold like the north and south poles. They have adapted to most every habitat including deserts, forests, and grasslands.
What do they eat?
Grasshoppers eat plants, primarily leaves, grasses, and cereal crops. A lot of grasshoppers can eat a lot of food and can cause serious problems for farmers by eating all of their crops.
How do Grasshoppers make noise?
Male grasshoppers will make a singing sound by rubbing a hind leg against one of their hard forewings. The rough leg causes the wing to vibrate and make a sound, almost like a bow playing a violin.
How are they different from Crickets?
Grasshoppers and Crickets are similar insects, both being of the order Orthoptera, but they are different and actually are in different scientific suborders. The main differences may be hard to see:
What are locusts?
- Grasshoppers have shorter antennae than crickets.
- Grasshoppers make sounds by rubbing their forelegs against their wings, while crickets rub their wings together.
- Grasshoppers hear with their abdomen, while crickets listen with their legs.
- Grasshoppers are diurnal (active during the day). Crickets are nocturnal (active during the night).
- Grasshoppers only eat plants, while crickets will eat other animals and are omnivorous.
Locusts are a type of grasshopper. They typically live alone, but are famous for forming giant swarms that can swoop down and destroy massive areas of crops.
Fun Facts about Grasshoppers
- A lot of people around the world eat grasshoppers. They are a good source of protein.
- They lay eggs that hatch into nymphs. As the nymphs grow into full size adults they will molt many times.
- The villains in the movie A Bug's Life by Pixar are grasshoppers.
- They have many predators including birds, spiders, beetles, and lizards.
- They can leap 20 times as far as their body length.
For more about insects:
Insects and Arachnids
Black Widow Spider
Yellow Jacket Wasp
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