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- What do they look like?
- Where do they live?
- What kind of habitat do they need?
- How do they grow?
- How long do they live?
- How do they behave?
- How do they communicate with each other?
- What do they eat?
- What eats them and how do they avo >Grasshoppers jump or fly away, and then hide if they can. Some species eat toxic plants and keep the toxins in their bodies to discourage predators.
- What roles do they have in the ecosystem?
- Do they cause problems?
- How do they interact with us?
- Are they endangered?
- Insect facts for k >Kids Encyclopedia Facts
- Insect bodies
- Respiratory and circulatory systems
- How insects grow
- Evolutionary history
- Origin of insects
- Origin of wings
- Kinds of insects
- Grasshopper facts for k >Kids Encyclopedia Facts
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Fun Grasshopper Facts for Kids
Check out our fun grasshopper facts for kids. Learn about the many different species of grasshopper, how far a grasshopper can jump, how locusts are a type of grasshopper and much more.
Read on and enjoy a variety of interesting information about grasshoppers.
Grasshoppers are an insect from the suborder Caelifera and the order Orthoptera.
Locusts are actually species of short-horned grasshoppers, they often gather in large swarms and can destroy entire fields of crops, because a single grasshopper can eat half its body weight in plants per day. In just the U.S. they cause about $1.5 billion in damage to grazing lands each year.
There are around 11,000 known species of grasshopper found around the world, often inhabiting grassy fields, meadow and forest areas.
Grasshoppers have two antennae, 6 legs, two pairs of wings and small little pinchers to tear off food such as grasses, leaves and cereal crops.
Some species of grasshopper species make noises by either rubbing their back legs against the forewings or body, or by snapping their wings when flying.
Grasshoppers grow to around 2 inches (5 cm), with some growing as big as 5 inches (12.7cm). Female are usually larger than males.
Grasshoppers are often colored in a way that camouflages them in their local habitat, green ones in grassy fields, sandy colored in dirt and desert areas.
Grasshoppers can jump about 25cm high and around 1 meter long. If humans could jump as far as grasshoppers do, relative to size, then we could leap more than the length of a football field.
The grasshopper can jump as far as it does because its hind legs act like miniature catapults. It bends its legs at the knee, mechanism within the knee works like a spring, storing up energy. When the grasshopper is ready to jump, it relaxes the leg muscles, allowing the spring to release flinging it into the air.
Grasshoppers are commonly eaten in African, Central and South American countries, the insect is a very good source of protein.
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, sp >
Local animals in this group:
Find grasshoppers information at
What do they look like?
Grasshoppers are medium to large insects. Adult length is 1 to 7 cm, 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 don’t reach very far back on their bodies.
Grasshoppers usually have large eyes, and are colored to blend into their environment, usually a combination of brown, gray or green. In some species the males have bright colors 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 colored 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 they to help lay eggs underground. Male grasshoppers sometimes have special structures on their wings that they can rub their hind legs on or rub together to make sounds.
- Other Physical Features
- bilateral symmetry
- Sexual Dimorphism
- female larger
- male more colorful
- Range length 1.0 to 7.0 cm 0.39 to 2.76 in
Where do they live?
Grasshoppers are found on all continents except Antarctica. There are over 10,000 species of grasshoppers known, about 50 of which are found in Michigan.
What kind of habitat do they need?
Most grasshoppers prefer dry open habitats with lots of grass and other low plants, though some species live in forests or jungles. Many of the grassland species invade farmer’s fields too.
How do they grow?
Grasshoppers all hatch from eggs, and as they grow they go through incomplete metamorphosis. This means that each stage looks a lot like the adult, but adds a few changes each time the young grasshopper sheds its skin. Grasshoppers usually shed 5 or 6 times. After the last time, they are adults and can reproduce. Most species also get wings when they are adults.
How long do they live?
Most grasshoppers can only survive the winter as an egg; the adults all die when it gets cold. In warm climates which don’t have freezing winters, grasshoppers can probably live longer, maybe for several years. Most die long before that though, from disease or predators or drought.
How do they behave?
Grasshoppers are most active during the day, but also feed at night. They don’t 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.
How do they communicate with each other?
Grasshoppers mainly use sound and sight to communicate, though like animals, scent and touch are important during mating. In some species males vibrate their wings or rub their wings with their legs to make sounds that attract females.
What do they eat?
Grasshoppers are herbivores, they eat plants. They mostly eat leaves, but also flowers, stems and seeds. Sometimes they also scavenge dead insects for extra protein.
What eats them and how do they avo >Grasshoppers jump or fly away, and then hide if they can. Some species eat toxic plants and keep the toxins in their bodies to discourage predators.
What roles do they have in the ecosystem?
Grasshoppers can be important herbivores. There are sometimes so many, eating so much, that they change the richness and abundance of plant species where they live.
Do they cause problems?
Some grasshopper species are important pests of agriculture. They eat the plants that farmers grow in their fields. This is not usually a big problem in North America, but it has been in the past, and is still a major problem in Africa and Asia.
- Ways that these animals might be a problem for humans
- crop pest
How do they interact with us?
Grasshoppers are an important food for other animals. Some species eat weed plants that are bad for cattle and horses.
Are they endangered?
No grasshoppers are known to be endangered.
- IUCN Red List [Link] Not Evaluated
George Hammond (author), Animal Diversity Web.
Insect facts for k >Kids Encyclopedia Facts
|A bee on a flower|
Insects, are a class in the phylum Arthropoda. They are small terrestrial invertebrates which have a hard exoskeleton.
Insects are the largest group of animals on earth by far: about 926,400 different species have been described. They are more than half of all known living species. They may be over 90% of animal species on Earth.
New species of insects are continually being found. Estimates of the total number of species range from 2 million to 30 million.
Insects have six legs; and most have wings. Insects were the first animals capable of flight. As they develop from eggs, insects undergo metamorphosis. Insects live all over the planet: almost all are terrestrial (live on land). Few insects live in the oceans or in very cold places, such as Antarctica. The most species live in tropical areas.
Some people call all insects “bugs”, but this is not correct. Only some insects are true bugs, which is a particular order of insects. People who study insects are called entomologists.
Insects have exoskeletons (skeletons on the outside). Their skeletons are made out of thin, hard pieces or plates, like armour, made of chitin. All together, these pieces make a hard layer around the insect’s body. The exoskeleton protects the insect.
The body of an insect has three main parts: a head, a thorax, and an abdomen. On the head are an insect’s compound eyes, its two antennae (they feel and smell things), and its mouth.
On the thorax, insects have wings and legs. All insects have six legs (three pairs of jointed legs) and usually four wings (two pairs).
The abdomen is the back part of the insect. Inside the abdomen is the stomach, the heart, and the excretory system where body wastes pass out of the insect. Bees also have a stinger at the back of the abdomen.
Just like our muscles connect to our bones to make us walk and stand up, the muscles of an insect connect to the exoskeleton to make it walk and move. Their muscles are on the inside of their skeleton.
Insects are cold-blooded, which means that they cannot control their body temperature. This means that insects are not good at surviving the cold, at any rate out in the open. In the winter, many insects go into something called diapause, which is the insect version of hibernation. Some insects, like cockroaches, cannot go into diapause and they will die if it gets too cold outside. This is why cockroaches love living in people’s warm houses.
Respiratory and circulatory systems
Insect respiration happens without lungs. There is a system of internal tubes and sacs through which gases diffuse or are actively pumped. Air is taken in through openings on the sides of the abdomen called spiracles. Oxygen gets to tissues that need it through their trachea (element 8 in diagram). As larvae, many insects have gills that can extract oxygen dissolved in water, while others need to rise to the water surface to replenish air supplies which may be held or trapped in special structures.
Adult insects use oxygen at a high rate when they fly. They need it for the flight muscles, the most active tissue known in biology. The flight muscles use oxygen at a huge rate: 100 ccs of oxygen for every single cc of tissue per hour. With this system, the greatest diameter a muscle could have (and still consume oxygen at this rate) is about 0.5cm. Even with special extra arrangements, insects cannot get larger than about 11cm long. The largest insect bodies are about as big as a mouse.
Some insects also use a molecule called haemocyanin, which does the same job as haemoglobin does in vertebrates (but less efficiently). The insect circulatory system has no veins or arteries. The ‘blood’ is called haemolymph, and moves around in the space called the haemocoel. The organs sit in the haemocoel and are bathed in the haemolymph. The ‘heart’ is little more than a single tube which pulses (squeezes).
How insects grow
Insects start life as an egg. Usually a female (mother) insect lays eggs, but a few species have live birth (the eggs develop inside the mother). The eggs are small; but they can usually be seen with the naked eye.
Although the adults are larger, they do need a magnifying glass or a binocular microscope to see the details. A professional entomologist uses a binocular microscope to identify insects, plus a printed reference work. There are far too many insects for anyone to remember them all, and most entomologists specialise in just one or two orders.
After the eggs hatch, two kinds of development may occur. Some insects have what is called ‘incomplete metamorphosis’. This means that a small insect, called a nymph comes out of the egg, and the nymph looks almost the same as the adult insect. As the nymph grows, it does not change the way it looks, but only how big it is. It goes through a number of stages, called ‘instars’. Grasshoppers grow in this way.
Other insects have complete metamorphosis, which means that the small larva which comes out of the egg looks very different from the adult insect. Insects that have complete metamorphosis usually come out of the egg as a larva, which usually looks like a worm. The larva eats food and gets bigger until it turns into a pupa. Butterfly pupae (plural for pupa) are often inside cocoons. Inside the cocoon the insect changes the way it looks and often grows wings. When the cocoon opens, the adult insect comes out. Many insects have complete metamorphosis, for example beetles, butterflies and moths, and flies. The adult stage of development is called the imago.
Origin of insects
The oldest known insect fossil is the Devonian Rhyniognatha, from the 396 million year old Rhynie chert. It may have superficially resembled a modern-day silverfish insect. This species already possessed mandibles of a type associated with winged insects, suggesting that wings may already have evolved at this time. Thus, the first insects probably appeared earlier, in the Silurian period.
Origin of wings
In 2008, researchers uncovered what they believe is the world’s oldest known full-body impression of a primitive flying insect, a 300 million-year-old specimen from the Carboniferous period.
The origins of insect flight remain obscure, since the earliest winged insects currently known appear to have been capable fliers. Some extinct insects had an additional pair of winglets attaching to the first segment of the thorax, for a total of three pairs. It seems the insects were not a particularly successful group of animals before they evolved wings.
Upper Carboniferous and Lower Permian insect orders include both living groups and a number of Palaeozoic groups, now extinct. During this era, some giant dragonfly-like forms reached wingspans of 55 to 70 cm (22 to 28 in) making them far larger than any living insect.
This gigantism may have been due to higher atmospheric oxygen levels, which allowed increased respiratory efficiency. The lack of flying vertebrates could have been another factor. Many of the early groups became extinct during the Permian-Triassic extinction event, the largest mass extinction in the history of the Earth, around 252 million years ago.
Kinds of insects
Different kinds of insects can be divided into groups called orders. There are many insect orders. The biggest insect orders are listed below:
- Beetles (order Coleoptera) have the front pair of wings changed into a hard shell to protect the back wings.
- Butterflies and moths (order Lepidoptera) have large, often colourful wings.
- Flies (order Diptera) have only two wings.
- Ants, bees, and wasps (order Hymenoptera) sometimes have stingers and sometimes live in large colonies (like ant hills).
- True bugs (order Hemiptera) have a mouth that is long and narrow, like a drinking straw. This kind of mouth is called a beak.
- Grasshoppers (order Orthoptera) can usually jump with their legs. Eat grass and grain plants.
- Odonata, dragonflies and damselflies are top predators of other insects. Both aquatic nymphs and flying adults are carnivorous.
- Phasmatodea, the stick and leaf insects, is an order which is entirely based on camouflage. It includes the world’s longest insect, Chan’s megastick.
Spiders, scorpions, and similar animals are not insects; they are arachnids. Arachnids are arthropods that have four pairs of legs. Centipedes are also arthropods, but not insects: they are in a subphylum called the Myriapoda.
Grasshopper facts for k >Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Temporal range: late Permian – Recent
Grasshoppers are the suborder Caelifera, including locusts. There are 11,000 species, of which 10,000 are in the family Acrididae.
To distinguish grasshoppers from bush-crickets or katydids, they are sometimes referred to as the short-horned grasshopper. Species which change colour and behaviour at high population densities are called locusts.
Grasshoppers prefer to eat grasses, leaves and cereal crops, but many grasshoppers are omnivorous. Many grasshoppers eat from several host plants in one day, while others stay on one host plant. One of the 8000 species of grasshopper eats only a single species of plant.
Grasshoppers have antennae that are generally shorter than their body and short ovipositors. They also have pinchers or mandibles that cut and tear off food. Those species that make easily heard noises usually do so by rubbing the hind femurs against the forewings or abdomen (stridulation), or by snapping the wings in flight. Tympana, if present, are on the sides of the first abdominal segment. The hind femora are typically long and strong, fitted for leaping. Generally they are winged, but hind wings are membranous while front wings (tegmina) are coriaceous and not fit for flight. Females are normally larger than males, with short ovipositors. Males have a single unpaired plate at the end of the abdomen. Females have two pairs of valves ( triangles) at the end of the abdomen used to dig in sand during egg laying.
They are easily confused with the other sub-order of Orthoptera, Ensifera (crickets), but are different in many aspects, such as the number of segments in their antennae and structure of the ovipositor, as well as the location of the tympana and modes of sound production. Ensiferans have antennae with at least 20-24 segments, and caeliferans have fewer. In evolutionary terms, the split between the Caelifera and the Ensifera is no more recent than the Permo-Triassic boundary.
In certain countries, grasshoppers are eaten as a good source of protein. In southern Mexico for example, chapulines are regarded for their high content of protein, minerals and vitamins. They are usually collected at dusk, using lamps or electric lighting, in sweep nets. Sometimes they are placed in water for 24 hours, after which they can be boiled or eaten raw, sun-dried, fried, flavoured with spices, such as garlic, onions, chile, drenched in lime, and used in soup or as a filling for various dishes. They are abundant in Central and Southern Mexican food and street markets.
They are served on skewers in some Chinese food markets, like the Donghuamen Night Market.
Raw grasshoppers should be eaten with caution, as they may contain tapeworms.
In some countries in Africa, grasshoppers are an important food source, as are other insects, adding proteins and fats to the daily diet, especially in times of food crisis. They are often used in soup. The “grasshoppers” eaten in Uganda and neighbouring areas are called nsenene, but they are in fact bush crickets, also called katydids.
In some countries in the Middle East, grasshoppers are boiled in hot water with salt, left in the sun to dry then eaten as snacks.
Grasshoppers are also eaten in their own environment by other animals as well as by humans. They are eaten by such things as foxes, moles, birds, mice, shrews, skunks and ground squirrels.
Locusts are several species of short-horned grasshoppers of the family Acrididae that sometimes form very large groups (swarms); these can be highly destructive and migrate in a more or less coordinated way. Thus, these grasshoppers have solitary and gregarious (swarm) phases. Locust swarms can cause massive damage to crops.
The coloring of different species of grasshopper are often dependent on environment. Many species are adapted to green fields and forests, and blend in well there to avoid predators. Others have adapted to drier, sandy environments and blend in well with the colors of dry dirt and sand.
In popular culture
- Aesop (620–560 BC), a slave and story-teller who lived in Ancient Greece, told a tale called The Ant and the Grasshopper. In this tale, the ant worked hard preparing his shelter and stores of food all summer, while the grasshopper played. When winter came, the ant was prepared, but the grasshopper has no shelter or food. He begs to enter the ant’s house, but the ant refuses and the grasshopper starves.
- In the 1998 movie A Bug’s Life, the heroes are the members of an ant colony, and the lead villain and his henchmen are grasshoppers. In an apparent homage to the Aesop fable, The Ant and the Grasshopper, the lead villain is eaten by a bird.
Crickets, like this great green bush-cricket Tettigonia viridissima, somewhat resemble grasshoppers but have over 20 segments in their antennae and different ovipositors.
Fossil grasshoppers at the Royal Ontario Museum
Frontal view of Egyptian locust (Anacridium aegyptium) showing the compound eyes, tiny ocelli and numerous setae
Millions of plague locusts on the move in Australia
Cottontop tamarin monkey eating a grasshopper
Grasshopper with parasitic mites
Locusts killed by the naturally occurring fungus Metarhizium, an environmentally friendly means of biological control. CSIRO, 2005
Detail of grasshopper on table in Rachel Ruysch’s painting Flowers in a Vase, c. 1685. National Gallery, London
Sir Thomas Gresham’s gilded grasshopper symbol, Lombard Street, London, 1563
Chinese rice grasshoppers (Oxya chinensis) are agricultural pests.
Egyptian hieroglyphs “snḥm”
A grasshopper beam engine, 1847
Gaudy grasshopper, Atractomorpha lata, evades predators with camouflage.
Lubber grasshopper, Titanacris albipes, has deimatically coloured wings, used to startle predators.
Leaf grasshopper, Phyllochoreia ramakrishnai, mimics a green leaf.
Painted grasshopper, Dactylotum bicolor, deters predators with warning coloration.
Spotted grasshopper, Aularches miliaris, defends itself with toxic foam and warning colours.