Grasshopper — Facts, Diet — Habitat Information

Grasshopper

Grasshoppers are herbivorous insects of the suborder Caelifera in the order Orthoptera. To distinguish them from bush crickets or katydids, they are sometimes referred to as short-horned grasshoppers. Species that change colour and behaviour at high population densities are called locusts.

A Grasshopper is an amazing insect that can leap 20 times the length of its own body. If you or I could do that, we would be able to jump almost 40 yards!

A Grasshopper does not actually ‘jump’. What they do is use their legs as a catapult. Grasshoppers can both jump and fly and they can reach a speed of 8 miles per hour when flying. There are about 18,000 different species of grasshoppers.

Grasshopper Characteristics

Grasshoppers are medium to large insects. Adult length is 1 to 7 centimetres, depending on the species. Like their relatives the ‘katydids’ and ‘crickets’, they have chewing mouthparts, two pairs of wings, one narrow and tough, the other wide and flexible, and long hind legs for jumping. They are different from these groups in having short antennae that do not reach very far back on their bodies.

Grasshoppers usually have large eyes, and are coloured to blend into their environment, usually a combination of brown, grey or green. In some species the males have bright colours on their wings that they use to attract females. A few species eat toxic plants, and keep the toxins in their bodies for protection. They are brightly coloured to warn predators that they taste bad.

Female grasshoppers are larger than the males and have sharp points at the end of their abdomen that are there to help them lay eggs underground. Male grasshoppers sometimes have special structures on their wings that they rub their hind legs on or rub together to make sounds.

Grasshoppers can be found almost everywhere in the world, except for the colder regions near the North and South poles.

Types of Grasshopper

There are two main groups of grasshoppers:

(1) long-horned grasshoppers

(2) short-horned grasshoppers

Grasshoppers are divided according to the length of their antennae (feelers), which are also called horns. Short-horned grasshoppers are usually called ‘locusts’.

Grasshopper Habitat and Grasshopper Diet

Grasshoppers live in fields, meadows and just about anywhere they can find generous amounts of food to eat. A grasshopper has a hard shell and a full grown grasshopper is about one and a half inches, being so small you would not think they would eat much – but you would be so wrong – they eat lots and lots – an average grasshopper can eat 16 time its own weight.

The grasshoppers favourite foods are grasses, leaves and cereal crops. One particular grasshopper – the Shorthorn grasshopper only eats plants, but it can go berserk and eat every plant in sight – makes you wander where they put it all.

Grasshopper Behaviour

Grasshoppers are most active during the day, but also feed at night. They do not have nests or territories and some species go on long migrations to find new supplies of food. Most species are solitary and only come together to mate, but the migratory species sometimes gather in huge groups of millions or even billions of individuals.

When a grasshopper is picked up, they ‘spit’ a brown liquid which is known as ‘tobacco juice’. Some scientists believe that this liquid may protect grasshoppers from attacks by insects such as ants and other predators – they ‘spit’ the liquid at them then catapult up and fly off quickly.

Grasshoppers also try to escape from their enemies hiding in the grass or among leaves. If you have ever tried to catch grasshoppers in a field, you know how quickly they can disappear by dropping down into the tall grass.

Grasshopper Predators

The grasshoppers greatest enemies include various kinds of flies that lay their eggs in or near grasshopper eggs. After the fly eggs hatch, the newborn flies eat the grasshopper eggs. Some flies will even lay their eggs on the grasshoppers body, even while the grasshopper is flying. The newborn flies then eat the grasshopper. Other enemies of grasshoppers include beetles, birds, mice, snakes and spiders.

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Facts About Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers are one of the most common insects that can be found in various parts of the world. Close to 20,000 species of grasshoppers exist around the world and these include locusts. When they are seen in backyards or farms, some kids love to play with them because of their jumping abilities. Aside from jumping, grasshoppers are also interesting because of the following facts:

Fact 1: Grasshoppers do not have ears. These hopping insects do have five eyes but they aren’t gifted with actual ears. Instead, they use their tympanal organ located in their abdomen to detect some sound and movement.

Fact 2: The life span of grasshoppers is pretty short at only 1 year. Grasshoppers start their life as eggs and become larvae when they hatch. Development of their bodies will then make them become nymphs with similar body structure to adults except that no wings are formed yet. Adult grasshoppers will have fully developed bodies and two sets of wings.

Fact 3: Grasshoppers are experts at jumping. They can jump from one position to another at 20 times their body size which could be as large as 5 inches. Their powerful legs let them catapult their bodies to the air and reaching far distances.

Fact 4: Grasshoppers are also great at flying. Many people may only see them as great hoppers but these insects can also fly so fast especially when moving away from possible predators like birds.

Fact 5: Some grasshopper species are welcomed by farmers. The two-striped grasshopper for example helps cattle by feeding on plants that are harmful and toxic to these animals. The Turnbull specie meanwhile helps in the weeding out of various farms.

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Fact 6: The grasshopper mandible is their strongest body part. This is based on the fact that when these insects get eaten by birds and choked out, the only remaining intact body part are their mandibles which they use for side to side eating.

Fact 7: When defending themselves, some grasshopper species will spit out a brownish liquid. Some people refer to this liquid as tobacco juice. If they are threatened for example, the brown liquid they spit will serve as a repellent against predators.

Fact 8: The jumping ability of grasshoppers helps remove their own dung. Jumping is not only for moving about from one place to another but rather also used for a practical purpose and that is to remove the insect’s own feces that got stuck from their bottoms.

Fact 9: Grasshoppers can also sing. Some species rub their legs to produce a distinct sound while others flap their wings to create a singing sound. There are grasshopper species though that are pretty silent and do not make sounds with their legs or wings.

Fact 10: A swarm of grasshoppers will cause farm damage. Millions of dollars may be lost when thousands of these insects eat out all foliage in a field or farm.

Fact 11: Grasshoppers inhabited the Earth even before dinosaurs came along. The early ancestors of these hopping insects were known to have lived for more than 200 million years already.

Fact 12: Many people love to eat grasshoppers. In many parts of Asia, the Americas and Africa for example, grasshoppers are regular ingredients for some local food and delicacies.

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Facts about grasshoppers

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:

  • 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.

What are locusts?

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.

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Facts about grasshoppers

Grasshoppers are insects that belong to the Orthoptera order and Caelifera suborder. There are 11,000 known species of grasshoppers. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Take a look below for 28 more interesting and weird facts about grasshoppers.

1. They prefer dry open habitats with a lot of grass and other low plants, however, some species are known to live in dense forests and jungles. Most grassland grasshoppers are known to invade a farmer’s fields.

2. Their lifespan depends on the climate. If they’re in a cold climate, they will only survive winter as an egg. In warmer climates, they’re capable of living for up to 7 years.

3. Grasshoppers have an average insect body that consists of a head, thorax and abdomen.

4. They’re considered to be medium to large insects. Fully grown grasshoppers can be between 1 and 7 centimeters, or 0.4 to 2.75 inches, in length. Female grasshoppers are usually bigger than males.

5. Their head has large compound eyes that give the grasshopper 360 degree vision. A grasshopper’s eyes can detect light and dark, and their antennae are sensitive enough to feel any inconsistencies in the space around them.

6. They have two pairs of wings, the first of which is narrow and tough and the second of which is wide and flexible. They also have long hind legs, which enable them to jump relatively far.

7. Grasshoppers are usually colored so they can blend into their environment. In some species, male grasshoppers have bright colors on their wings so they can attract females. Others eat toxic plants and keep the toxins in their bodies for protection.

8. They’re ground dwelling insects that use their hind legs to escape from predator by quickly leaping away.

9. Fully grown grasshoppers are able to leave 10 times their own length into the air and 20 times its own length horizontally without using its wings.

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10. They’re able to jump such vast distances because a small cuticle in a grasshopper’s knee acts as a spring and lets it catapult its body into the air.

11. A grasshoppers peak acceleration during take-off approaches 20G of forces. Compare that to a fight jet, which can experience 9G of force at full speed.

12. Most grasshopper species can fly relatively well. They use their hind legs as a booster to propel them into the air, where they will spread their wings and fly. They can reach a speed of 13 kilometers, or 8 miles, an hour when flying.

13. They’re herbivores, which means that they primarily feed on plants. Their diet consists of corn, wheat, barley, alfalfa, grass, and tree leaves.

14. They don’t have nests or territories, as they frequently migrate to better food sources.

15. Grasshoppers are solitary, only coming together to mate. The migratory species tend to come together in groups of millions or even billions of members.

16. They use sound and sight to communicate, and scent and touch to mate. Some grasshopper species have males that vibrate their wings or rub their wings with their legs to make sounds that will attract females.

17. They mate in late summer or fall. After mating, the female grasshopper lays hundreds of egg pods in the ground. The eggs will stay there over winter and hatch in late May.

18. The nymphs that hatch from the eggs will go through multiple incomplete metamorphosis stages. During these stages, the nymphs look like adult grasshoppers, but each time they shed their skin, they add a few changes to their body.

19. Grasshoppers are prayed upon by a few different animals and insects. Their eggs are eaten by bee-flies, ground beetles and blister beetles. The nymphs and adult grasshoppers are eaten by ants, robber flies, praying mantises, sphecid wasps, spiders, lizards, most birds and most small mammals.

20. Locusts are a species of grasshopper. They live alone but form massive swarms that can destroy large areas of crops.

21. The biggest recorded locust swarm was formed by the Rocky Mountain locust in 1875. The swarm was 2,900 kilometers, or 1,800 miles, long and 180 kilometers, or 110 miles, wide. It’s estimated that there were 3.5 trillion locusts in the swarm.

22. Grasshoppers existed before dinosaurs. They date back to the early Triassic period, which was 250 million years ago.

23. They’re commonly eaten in Africa, Asia, Central and South America. Grasshoppers are a very good source of protein.

24. The Ohlone people burned grassland to herd grasshoppers into pits where they could be collected and used as food.

25. In the Bible, John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey while living in the wilderness.

26. When grasshoppers appear in dreams, they can be interpreted as symbols of freedom, independence, spiritual enlightenment, the inability to settle down or commit to a decision.

27. In Japan, grasshoppers as seen as a sign of good luck.

28. In the movie A Bug’s Life, the main villain and his henchmen were all grasshoppers.

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Grasshopper Facts — Life Cycle, Body, Habitat of The Insect

By: Isabella Brown | 26 April, 2019 | Insects

Grasshoppers are insects which belong to the phylum arthropoda and order orthoptera. They are members of the suborder caelifera with eight superfamilies and over eleven thousand different species. They are found in different sizes with an average body length ranging between 3 and 5 inches. As the name implies, grasshoppers are creatures found mostly around grassy fields and gardens with a unique ability to jump up to unbelievable heights crossing huge distances in comparison with its size. The insect has many more interesting facts related to it. Go through the following grasshopper facts and discover more intriguing information that you wouldn’t have gone through ever.

Distinguishing Physical Traits

Grasshoppers can be identified through the following distinguishing traits.

Color

They may exist in any of these three colors: green, brown or yellow. This color helps the insect camouflage, hiding among fresh green or dry brown grasses.

Grasshoppers possess a set of six jointed legs which are powerful and give strength to the insect. The hind legs are longer and are used primarily for the purpose of jumping. On the other hand, the purpose of the four legs at the front of the body is to walk or to hold on to food.

Wings

Grasshoppers also possess the ability to fly due to the presence of wings. There is a set of four wings – one pair at the front and one at the back. The front pair is termed as tegmina and consists of wings which are comparatively narrower and harder than the hind wings. The latter are larger as well as membranous.

Antennae

The antennae of a grasshopper are an extremely important part of its body since they impart the insect the ability to detect smell and sense touch. They are remarkably long with around twenty to twenty-four segments. These antennae can be as long as the body of the insect.

There are two conspicuous compound eyes, each one being at either side of the insect’s head. These eyes enable grasshoppers to enjoy a broad field of vision. The insect can detect the shape and color of objects as well as their distance and movement. In addition, there are three more eyes – termed as ocelli – at the forehead of the insect. These eyes are used to detect the intensity of light.

Abdomen

The abdomen of a grasshopper consists of eleven segments. The first segment contains an organ called tympanum which enables the insect to hear. The ninth segment of the abdomen contains a pair of appendages known as cerci while the last two segments contain the insect’s reproductive organs.

Thorax

The thorax consists of three segments which are fused together. This region bears the six legs of the insect as well as its two pairs of wings.

Habitat

With more than 2,000 classified genera and 11,000 species, grasshoppers are distributed widely all over the globe. Their habitat consists of regions with a plentiful supply of grass or other types of plants – the main food source for grasshoppers. Populations of the insect may be found in open lands or deep forests. They may also be found in fields of crops where they are considered a pest since they can turn out to be extremely destructive for agricultural produce.

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Mostly, a large variety of grasshopper species is found in tropical wetlands. In comparison, a fewer species exist in regions of the temperate zone. Overall, grasshoppers are found on all continents of the earth except Antarctica where they cannot survive the freezing temperature.

Lifecycle

A grasshopper’s lifecycle consists of three stages: the egg, nymph and adult. It is termed as incomplete metamorphosis or hemimetabolism. More information about this lifecycle is discussed below.

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Egg pods

Egg pods are laid by female grasshoppers during summers or late autumn. Each pod contains around two dozen eggs. After laying the pod, the female inserts it into the ground near food plants for protection. When the winters approach, the pods go in a state of diapause – a condition in which the eggs assume dormancy till unfavorable environmental conditions subside. When the winters are over, the eggs resume their development process and hatch after a period of around nine months after being laid.

Nymphs

Baby grasshoppers which come out of hatched eggs are termed as nymphs. The first baby forms a tunnel in the soil to come out at the surface of the ground. The nymphs which hatch out of the remaining eggs follow the sibling. These nymphs possess the ability to jump in order to escape their predators.

Adulthood

The adult stage of the insect is also referred to as imago. An adult grasshopper is larger in size than the nymph and possesses fully functional wings. Adults can undergo further physical changes in order to survive certain environmental pressures, such as overpopulation. In such a scenario, the production of a certain chemical is stimulated in grasshoppers which brings about several changes. It grows larger in size, starting eating more and flies around in groups. This form of grasshoppers is known as locusts which can be extremely destructive for vegetation including agricultural crops.

Grasshoppers are omnivores. However, they prefer to spend their life as herbivores and feed mostly on grass and other types of plants. They may also eat smaller insects or dead remains of animals in case they face shortage of their favorite food. Although they can feed on any type of plant matter, grasshoppers mostly choose grasses and low lying plants. Other sources of food for the insect include grains such as wheat, oats and barley. On the other hand, their most preferred vegetables are lettuce and broccoli. Moreover, since they can chew on anything – be it tender or tough – they may also feed on carrots, beans and onions.

14 Fun Facts about Grasshoppers

Discussed below are some grasshopper fun facts.

  • Grasshoppers possess no conventional ears. However, their hearing organ is found on their abdomen. It is known as tympana and consists of membranes which can detect vibrations to hear the sounds in the surroundings. Tympana may be considered to be an eardrum.
  • Grasshoppers are famous for creating a kind of music with the help of certain body parts which act as instruments. The rubbing together of their hind legs and forewings is an act called stridulating. This act creates a special sound which helps the insect in courting. Similarly, they create a second type of music through an act termed as crepitating. It involves the snapping of their wings when they are flying.
  • The hind legs of the insect act as small catapults, enabling it to jump incredibly high in order to escape predators.
  • Female grasshoppers are larger in size than their male counterparts.
  • The insect is relished as a good protein snack in certain regions of Asia and Africa. This is where large varieties of the insect are found in large numbers.
  • An individual grasshopper is a harmless and fascinating creature. However, swarms of locusts are rather dangerous and cause damage to crops. In fact, several instances of locust plagues have been mentioned in the record of ancient history.
  • According to fossil record, the oldest grasshoppers appeared over three hundred million years back in the carboniferous period. This makes them older than dinosaurs.
  • Grasshoppers spit a brown liquid in order to evade predators. This is an interesting defense mechanism used by the insect to repel possible enemies. This liquid is commonly known as tobacco juice although it does not contain tobacco.
  • The insect has been mentioned in religious books including the Bible and the Holy Quran.
  • Grasshoppers play an important part in the ecosystem. They are a source of food for many animals including birds, larger insects and small mammals and reptiles.
  • The average lifespan of a grasshopper is only one year out of which nine months are spent inside the egg. Therefore, the insect spends a very short time of its life as an adult.
  • The leap of a grasshopper can cover a distance which is twenty times as long as the length of its body.
  • Grasshoppers neither build nests nor do they have territories. They may migrate in order to find fresh sources of food.
  • The insect has gained importance in several ways in the fields of art, religion and spiritualism. If a grasshopper appears in one’s dreams, it is considered to symbolize spiritual enlightenment. It is also considered to be a sign of independence.

Grasshoppers – one of the oldest organisms on earth – have always been an important part of the food chain and, therefore, contribute greatly to the ecosystem. They are both useful as well as destructive. There are many interesting grasshopper facts as they create music and amuse onlookers with high leaps. Indeed, these are very fascinating insects.

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