Where does grasshopper come from first

Where does grasshopper come from first

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 >


10 Fascinating Facts About Grasshoppers

Find Out More About These Amazing Insects That Predate Dinosaurs

Jim Simmen / Getty Images

Animals & Nature

Famed fable writer Aesop portrayed the grasshopper as a ne’er do well who fiddled away his summer days without a thought to the future but in the real world, the destruction wreaked by grasshoppers on farming and ranching is far from a harmless parable. Although grasshoppers are extremely common, there’s more to these summertime critters than meets the eye. Here’s a list of 10 fascinating grasshopper-related facts.

1. Grasshoppers and Locusts Are One and the Same

When we think of grasshoppers, most people recall pleasant childhood memories of trying to catch the jumping insects in meadows or backyards. Say the word locusts, however, and it brings to mind images of historic plagues raining down destruction on crops and devouring every plant in sight.

Truth be told, grasshoppers and locusts are members of the same insect order. While certain species are commonly referred to grasshoppers and others as locusts, both creatures are short-horned members of the order Orthoptera. Jumping herbivores with shorter antennae are grouped into the suborder Caelifera, while their longer-horned brethren (crickets and katydids) belong to the suborder Ensifera.

2. Grasshoppers Have Ears on Their Bellies

The grasshopper’s auditory organs are found not on the head, but rather, on the abdomen. A pair of membranes that vibrate in response to sound waves are located one on either side of the first abdominal segment, tucked under the wings. This simple eardrum, called a tympanal organ, allows the grasshopper to hear the songs of its fellow grasshoppers.

3. Although Grasshoppers Can Hear, They Can’t Distinguish Pitch Very Well

As with most insects, the grasshopper’s auditory organs are simple structures. They can detect differences in intensity and rhythm, but not pitch. The male grasshopper’s song isn’t particularly melodic which is a good thing since females don’t care whether or not a fellow can carry a tune. Each species of grasshopper produces a characteristic rhythm that distinguishes its song from others and enables courting males and females of a given species to find one another.

4. Grasshoppers Make Music by Stridulating or Crepitating

If you’re not familiar with those terms, don’t worry. It’s not all that complicated. Most grasshoppers stridulate, which simply means that they rub their hind legs against their forewings to produce their trademark tunes. Special pegs on the inside of the hind leg act like a percussion instrument of sorts when they come in contact with the thickened edge of the wing. The band-winged grasshoppers crepitate or loudly snap their wings as they fly.

5. Grasshoppers Catapult Themselves Into the Air

If you’ve ever tried to catch a grasshopper, you know how far they can jump to flee danger. If humans could jump the way grasshoppers do, we would be able to easily leap the length of a football field. How do these insects jump so far? It’s all in those big, back legs. A grasshopper’s hind legs function like miniature catapults. In preparation for a jump, the grasshopper contracts its large flexor muscles slowly, bending its hind legs at the knee joint. A special piece of cuticle within the knee acts as a spring, storing up all the potential energy. The grasshopper then relaxes its leg muscles, allowing the spring to release its energy and fling the insect into the air.

6. Grasshoppers Can Fly

Because grasshoppers have such powerful jumping legs, people sometimes don’t realize that they also have wings. Grasshoppers use their jumping ability to give them a boost into the air but most are pretty strong fliers and make good use of their wings to escape predators.

7. Grasshoppers Cause Billions of Dollars in Damage to Food Crops Annually

One lone grasshopper can’t do too much harm, although it eats about half its body weight in plants each day—but when locusts swarm, their combined feeding habits can completely defoliate a landscape, leaving farmers without crops and people without food. In the U.S. alone, grasshoppers cause about $1.5 billion in damage to grazing lands each year. In 1954, a swarm of Desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria) consumed over 75 square miles of wild and cultivated plants in Kenya.

8. Grasshoppers Are an Important Source of Protein

People have been consuming locusts and grasshoppers for centuries. According to the Bible, John the Baptist ate locusts and honey in the wilderness. Locusts and grasshoppers are a regular dietary component in local diets in many areas of Africa, Asia, and the Americas—and since they’re packed with protein, they’re an important nutritional staple as well.

9. Grasshoppers Existed Long Before Dinosaurs

Modern-day grasshoppers descend from ancient ancestors that lived long before dinosaurs roamed the Earth. The fossil record shows that primitive grasshoppers first appeared during the Carboniferous period, more than 300 million years ago. Most ancient grasshoppers are preserved as fossils, although grasshopper nymphs (the second stage in the grasshopper lifestyle after the initial egg phase) are occasionally found in amber.

10. Grasshoppers May “Spit” Liquid to Defend Themselves

If you’ve ever handled grasshoppers, you’ve probably had a few of them spit brown liquid on you in protest. Scientists believe this behavior is a means of self-defense, and the liquid helps the insects repel predators. Some people say grasshoppers spit “tobacco juice,” probably because historically, grasshoppers have been associated with tobacco crops. Rest assured, however, the grasshoppers aren’t using you as a spittoon.


Where does grasshopper come from first

Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

Grasshoppers: Frequently Asked Questions, 2003

Dr. Allen Knutson,
Professor & Extension Entomologist, Texas Cooperative Extension

hy are grasshoppers so bad this year, again? Consecutive years of hot, dry summers and warm, dry autumns favor grasshopper survival and reproduction. Warm, dry fall weather allows grasshoppers more time to feed and lay eggs. The large numbers of grasshoppers present last fall left many eggs in the soil which hatched this spring. Also, rains in the spring when eggs are hatching drown young hoppers. Thus, dry weather in the spring favors their survival.

Grasshopper, Brachystala magna

Where do grasshoppers come from?
Grasshopper eggs are deposited in the soil l/2 – 2 inches deep in weedy areas, fencerows, ditches and hay fields. The eggs hatch in the spring and early summer. Eggs of different grasshopper species hatch out at different times, so young grasshoppers can be seen throughout the spring and early summer. Young grasshoppers, called nymphs, feed for about six weeks. Once nymphs reach the adult stage, they can fly. As weedy plants are consumed or dry in the summer heat, adult grasshoppers can fly from weedy areas and pastures to more succulent crops and landscapes.

When will grasshopper numbers decrease this season?
Although grasshoppers complete only one generation a year, eggs hatch over a long period of time. Development from egg to adult requires about 40-60 days. Also, eggs of different species hatch at different times so small grashoppers can be found throughout the growing season. Grasshopper can persist until late fall when old adults begin to die or when a killing frost occurs.

What can be done to reduce their numbers?
Weed control. Eliminating weeds will starve young hoppers and later discourage adults from laying eggs in the area. Destroying weeds infested with large numbers of grasshoppers can force the hungry grasshoppers to move to nearby crops or landscapes. Control the grasshoppers in the weedy area first with insecticides or be ready to protect nearby crops if they become infested. Grasshoppers deposit their eggs in undisturbed soil, as in fallow fields, road banks, and fence rows. Shallow tillage of the soil in late summer may be of some benefit in discouraging egg lay.

Are insecticides effective?
Grasshoppers are susceptible to many insecticides. However, insecticides typically do not persist more than a few days and grasshoppers may soon re-invade the treated area. The length of control will depend on the residual activity of the insecticides and the frequency of retreatment. Controlling grasshoppers over a large area will reduce the numbers present which can re-infest a treated area. Dimilin 2L provides long residual of young hoppers but is not effective against adults.

When should insecticides be applied?
Monitor grasshopper infestations and treat threatening infestations while grasshopper are still small and before they move into crops and landscapes. Immature grasshoppers (without wings) are more susceptible to insecticides than adults.

What about insecticide baits for grasshopper control?
Sevin 5 Bait is a ready-to-use bait which can be applied to many crop and non-crop sites, including around ornamentals and many fruit and vegetable crops. For those wanting to make their own grashopper bait, the labels for Sevin XLR and Sevin 4-Oil ULV provide directions for mixing these products with cereal grains to make a 2% to 10% carbaryl bait. The bait is labeled for use in rangeland, wasteland, ditch banks and roadsides. The label further states the bait is for use “only by government personnel or persons under their direct supervision (e.g. USDA, state and local extension personnel, etc.)”

Are biological control products such as Nolo Bait, Grashopper Attack, and others effective?
These products contain spores of a protozoan called Nosema locustae, formulated in a bait. Grasshoppers consuming the bait become infected by the Nosema organism. Some immature grasshoppers die while adults often survive but females lay fewer eggs. Nosema baits act too slowly and kill too few grasshoppers to be much value when the need for control is immediate.

Some insecticides for controlling grasshoppers in the home landscape at present (2003) include:

  • Cyfluthrin. The active ingredient in Bayer Advanced Home and Garden Spray
  • Bifenthrin. Active ingredient in Ortho Ready-to-Use Houseplant and Garden Insect Killer
  • Permethrin. Active ingredient in Spectracide and other products.
  • Acephate. Active ingredient in Orthene (at present, but being phased out).

Note: Tempo (cyfluthrin) and Demon (cypermethrin) are labeled for use by Professional Pest Control Operators (2003) for insect control in lawns and landscapes.

What insecticides can be used in ornamental production?
Several products may be used including those containing bifenthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, diazinon, dimethoate, malathion, acephate and carbaryl (2003).

For more information, see: Extension bulletin L-5201, Grasshoppers and Their Control.


Entomology Today

Brought to you by the Entomological Society of America

The Origin of Grasshoppers, Katyd >

By John P. Roche

The order Orthoptera — which includes the familiar crickets, katydids, and grasshoppers — is a huge and diverse group of winged insects with more than 25,000 species, many of which are scientifically and economically important. Because of its size, understanding the evolutionary relationships in the Orthoptera is important, but up until recently, the hypothesized taxonomy of the group was disorganized and inconsistent. A giant step in correcting this problem was made with a recent study of the evolutionary relationships of the Orthoptera, published in the journal Cladistics by Hojun Song of Texas A&M University and his colleagues.

Previous analyses of the taxonomy of the Orthoptera were based on physical traits, or on genetic evidence from relatively small numbers of samples. The problem with using physical traits for inferring evolutionary relationships is that organisms can have profound physical similarities shaped not by shared ancestry but by similar selective pressures arising from similar environments — a process known as convergent evolution. By looking at DNA sequences, on the other hand, scientists can infer evolutionary relationships much more accurately because similarities in the genetic code more reliably reflect evolutionary relationships. With DNA studies, the larger the number of samples, the more comprehensive the analysis.

The most extensive molecular study of the phylogeny of the Orthoptera prior to Song’s study was performed by Paul Flook and colleagues in 1999. Flook’s study looked at only 31 orthopteran taxa and only three genetic loci. Song’s study used DNA samples taken from 254 different taxa within the Orthoptera. For his genetic evidence, Song and his colleagues used the entire mitochondrial genome as well as some DNA from the nucleus. Mitochondria are organelles within eukaroytic cells that contain their own DNA, separate from the DNA found in the nucleus. Mitochondrial DNA is hypothesized to be a remnant of a past endosymbiosis between bacteria and eukaryotes. The advantage of mitochondrial DNA is that, being vestigial, it is less subject to stabilizing selective pressures that resist genetic change, so mitochondrial DNA changes more rapidly, thus providing a finer-grained yardstick for inferring branchings on an evolutionary tree. By using the entire mitochondrial genome, Song and colleagues were able to resolve evolutionary relationships in the Orthoptera over broad time scales.

With their DNA samples, Song and colleagues reconstructed the phylogeny of the Orthoptera using the science of cladistics, which infers evolutionary relationships based on the number of shared characters. Song used two different cladistics techniques: parsimony and maximum likelihood. Parsimony is a tool that looks for the simplest possible taxonomic hypothesis; maximum likelihood is a statistical tool that computes the probability of particular evolutionary trees and comes up with the highest probability tree. Song added all of the data together into a “total evidence phylogeny.” The resulting phylogeny is much more robust than previous trees constructed for the Orthoptera. The results from the DNA analysis were then calibrated with fossil information to determine the dates at which subgroups on the tree branched off from one another.

Analysis of the genetic and fossil data revealed that the order Orthoptera originated in the Carboniferous period (

350–300 million years ago) and the two suborders diverged in the Permian (

300–250 million years ago). The analysis found six superfamilies within the Ensifera and nine superfamilies within the Caelifera (superfamilies are a taxonomic group above the level of a family and below the level of a suborder). Song’s study provides what is by far the most rigorous and comprehensive phylogeny of the Orthoptera to date. Song made numerous important discoveries about specific patterns of relationship and divergence in subgroups of the Orthoptera. I summarize some of the key findings relating to the most diverse of the superfamilies below.

The crickets (superfamily Grylloidea) diverged from other Orthopterans in the Triassic period (

250–200 million years ago) and continued diverging throughout the Triassic and Jurassic periods (

200–145 million years ago). With more than 4,800 species alive today, they are the third most diverse group in the order. A key characteristic of crickets — the trait by which we know and love them — is their music. Crickets use acoustic communication to find mates, and thus their songs are shaped by sexual selection. Traits under sexual selection tend to diverge rapidly, and thus acoustic communication might be a factor in the rapid divergence observed in crickets.

The katydids (superfamily Tettigonioidea) evolved in the Cretaceous period (

145–65 million years ago) and diversified at the same time that flowering plants were diversifying. They are the second most diverse Orthopteran group, with more than 7,000 species. The wings of many katydids look like the leaves of flowering plants, which provides camouflage against predators. Therefore, natural selection may have shaped katydid wings to blend in with the leaves of flowering plants. We know that the leaf-shaped wings of katydids can provide a selective advantage via camouflage in the present, but we do not know if leaf-shaped wings evolved for this reason in the past. However, leaf-shaped wings evolved independently several times in the katydids, and this provides support for the evolved-for-camouflage hypothesis.

The grasshoppers (superfamily Acridoidea) are the most diverse group within the Orthoptera, with about 8,000 current species. Grasshoppers diverged in the mid to late Cenozoic Era (

65 million years ago to the present), and are therefore the most recent of the orthopteran superfamilies. Their evolution coincided with the origin and radiation of grasslands. All grasshoppers are herbivores, and grasshoppers are major consumers of grassland biomass.

Another intriguing finding of the study was that whereas there was a relatively steady and slow background rate of diversification in the Orthoptera over time, there were three instances where there was a high rate of evolutionary divergence. One was a rapid diversification in the Cenozoic that occurred in the branch containing the families Acrididae, Romaleidae, and Ommexechidae (the node of this diversification event is indicated by the lowest of the three black dots indicated by vertical black arrows in the figure above). There was also an instance of an increased rate of diversification in the family Pamphagidae (indicated by the middle of the three black dots in the figure). In addition, there was an instance of rapid diversification in the branch containing the families Tettigoniidae, Rhaphidophoridae, Prophalangopsiadae, Anostostomatidae, Gryllacrididae, and Stenopelmatidae (indicated by the highest of the three black dots in the figure).

In their study, Song and his colleagues made valuable discoveries that refined our understanding of orthopteran phylogeny. But many questions remain for further investigation. What are potential next steps in the investigation of orthopteran evolution? One practical step would be to obtain more DNA samples from the Gryllidea and run phylogenetic analyses on that group, as it was under-sampled in comparison with other groups in this study. Another question relates to the three nodes where rapid diversification was observed: Why was there rapid divergence in these instances? On a big-question level, one thing that particularly intrigues Dr. Song is the evolution of acoustic communication in Orthopterans.

“Crickets sing, katydids sing, and even grasshoppers sing,” Dr. Song said in an interview. “They use different mechanisms for generating sound and receiving sound. How did the acoustic communication evolve and diversify and in what context?”

All of these questions will provide fertile ground for future work on the evolutionary ecology of this group. Given the rapid diversification driven by sexual selection on their songs, we can wonder what the next newly-evolved group of Orthopterans will look and sound like, and how its behavior and its morphology will differ from its relatives — and why?

Read more at:

John P. Roche is a science writer and author with a PhD and a postdoctoral fellowship in the biological sciences. He has served as editor-in-chief of university research periodicals at Indiana University and Boston College, has published more than 150 articles, and has written and taught extensively about science and science writing. Dr. Roche also directs Science View Productions™, which provides technical writing and developmental editing for clients in academia and industry.


Insects, Their Ways and Means of Living/Chapter I

Their Ways and Means of Living

Sometime in spring, earlier or later according to the latitude or the season, the fields, the lawns, the gardens, suddenly are teeming with young grasshoppers. Comical little fellows are they, with big heads, no wings, and strong hind legs (Fig. 1). They feed on the fresh herbage and hop lightly here and there, as if their existence in no way involved the mystery of life nor raised any questions as to why they are here, how they came to be here, and whence they came. Of these questions, the last is the only one to which at present we can give a definite answer.

If we should search the ground closely at this season, it might be possible to see that the infant and apparently motherless grasshoppers are delivered into the visible world from the earth itself. With this information, a nature student of ancient times would have been satisfied—grasshoppers, he would then announce, are bred spontaneously from matter in the earth; the public would believe him, and thereafter would countenance no contrary opinion. There came a time in history, however, when some naturalist succeeded in overthrowing this idea and established in its place the dictum that every life comes from an egg. This being still our creed, we must look for the grasshopper’s egg.

​ The entomologist who plans to investigate the lives of grasshoppers finds it easier to begin his studies the year before; instead of sifting the earth to find the eggs from which the young insects are hatched in the spring, he observes the mature insects in the fall and secures a supply of eggs freshly laid by the females, either in the field or in cages properly equipped for them. In the laboratory then he can closely watch the hatching and observe with accuracy the details of the emergence. So, let us reverse the calendar and take note of what the mature grasshoppers of last season’s crop are doing in August and September.

Fig. 1. Young grasshoppers

Fig. 2. The end of the body of a male and a female grasshopper
The body, or abdomen, of a male (A) is bluntly rounded; that of the female (B) bears two pairs of thick prongs, which constitute the egg-laying organ, or ovipositor (Ovp)

Fig. 3. The female grasshopper in the position of depositing a pod of eggs in a hole in the ground dug with her ovipositor. (Drawn from a photograph in U. S. Bur. Ent.)

When the female grasshopper is ready to deposit a batch of eggs, she selects a suitable spot, which is almost any place in an open sunny field where her ovipositor can penetrate the soil, and there she inserts the tip of her organ with the prongs tightly closed. When the latter are well within the ground, they are probably spread apart so as to compress the earth outward, for the drilling ​ process brings no detritus to the surface, and gradually the end of the insect’s body sinks deeper and deeper, until a considerable length of it is buried in the ground (Fig. 3).

Now all is ready for the discharge of the eggs. The exit duct from the tubes of the ovary, which are filled with eggs already ripe, opens just below and between the bases of the lower prongs of the ovipositor, so that, when the upper and lower prongs are separated, the eggs escape from the passage between them. While the eggs are being placed in the bottom of the well, a frothy gluelike

Fig . 4. Egg pods of a grasshopper, showing various shapes: one opened exposing the eggs within. (Much enlarged)

Fig . 5. Eggs of a grasshopper; one split at the upper end, showing the young grasshopper about to emerge

Within each egg is the germ that is to produce a new grasshopper. This germ, the living matter of the egg, is but a minute fraction of the entire egg contents, for the bulk of the latter consists of a nutrient substance, called yolk, the purpose of which is to nourish the embryo as it develops. The tiny germ contains in some form, that even the strongest microscope will not reveal, the properties which will determine every detail of structure in the future grasshopper, except such as may be caused by external circumstances. It would be highly interesting to follow the course of the development of the embryo insect within the egg, and most of the important facts about it are known; but the story would be entirely too long to be given here, though a few things about the grasshopper’s development should be noted.

​ The egg germ begins its development as soon as the eggs are laid in the fall. In temperate or northern latitudes, however, low temperatures soon intervene and development is thereby checked until the return of warmth in the spring—or until some entomologist takes the eggs into an artificially heated laboratory. The eggs of some species of grasshoppers, if brought indoors before the advent of freezing weather and kept in a warm place, will proceed with their development, and young grasshoppers will emerge from them in about six weeks. On the other hand, the eggs of certain species, when thus created, will not hatch at all, the embryos within them math a certain stage of development and there they stop, and most of them never will resume their growth unless they are subjected to a freezing temperature! But, after a thorough chilling, the young grasshoppers will come out, even in January, if the eggs are then transferred to a warm place.

To refuse to complete its development until frozen and then warmed seems like a preposterous bit of inconsistency on the part of an insect embryo; but the embryos of many kinds of insects besides the grasshopper have this same habit from which they will not depart, and so we most conclude that it is not a whim, but a useful physiological property with which they are endowed. The special deity of nature delegated to look after living creatures knows well that Boreas sometimes oversleeps and that an egg laid in the fall, if it depended entirely on warmth for its development, might hatch that same season if mild weather should continue. And then, what chance would the poor fledgling have when a delayed winter comes upon it? None at all, of course, and the whole scheme for perpetuation of the species would be upset. But, if it is so arranged that development within the egg can reach completion only after the chilling effect of freezing weather, the emergence of the young insect will be deferred until the return of warmth in the spring, and thus the species will have a guarantee that its members will not be cut down by ​ unseasonable hatching. There are, however, species not thus insured, and these do suffer losses from fall hatching every time winter makes a late arrival. Eggs laid in the spring are designed to hatch the same season, and the eggs of species that live in warm climates never require freezing for their development.

Fig. 6. Young grasshopper emerging from its eggshell

The tough shell of the grasshopper’s egg is composed of two distinct coats, an outer, thicker, opaque one of a pale brown color, and an inner one which is thin and transparent. Just before hatching, the outer coat splits open in an irregular break over the upper end of the egg, and usually half or two-thirds of the way down the flat side. This outer coat can easily be removed artificially, and the inner coat then appears as a glistening capsule, through the semitransparent walls of which the little grasshopper inside can be seen, its members all tightly folded beneath its body. When the hatching takes place normally, however, both layers of the eggshell are split, and the young grasshopper emerges by slowly making its way out of the cleft (Fig. 6).

Newly-hatched grasshoppers that have come out of eggs which some meddlesome investigator has removed from their pods for observation very soon proceed to shed an outer skin from their bodies. This skin, which is already loosened at the time of hatching, appears now as a rather tightly fitting garment that cramps the soft legs and feet of the delicate creature within it. The latter, however, after a few forward heaves of the body, accompanied by expansions of two swellings on the back of the neck (Fig. 6), succeeds in splitting the skin over the neck and the back of the head, and the pellicle then rapidly shrinks and slides down over the body. The insect, thus first exposed, ​ liberates itself from the shriveled remnant of its hatching skin, and becomes a free new creature in the world. Being a grasshopper, it proceeds to jump, and with its first efforts clears a distance of four or five inches, something like fifteen or twenty times the length of its own body.

When the young locusts hatch under normal undisturbed conditions, however, we must picture them as coming out of the eggs into the cavernous spaces of the egg pod, and all buried in the earth. They are by no means yet free creatures, and they can gain their liberty only by burrowing upward until they come out at the surface of the ground. Of course, they are not very far beneath the surface, and most of the way will be through the easily penetrated walls of the cells of the egg covering. But above the latter is a thin layer of soil which may be hard-packed after the winter’s rains, and breaking through this layer can not ordinarily be an easy task. Not many entomologists have closely watched the newly-hatched grasshopper emerge from the earth, but Fabre has studied them under artificial conditions, covered with soil in a glass tube. He tells of the arduous efforts the tiny creatures make, pressing their delicate bodies upward through the earth by means of their straightened hind legs, while the vesicles on the back of the neck alternately contract and expand to widen the passage above. All this, Fabre says, is done before the hatching skin is shed, and it is only after the surface is reached and the insect has attained the freedom of the upper world that the inclosing membrane is cast off and the limbs are unencumbered.

The things that insects do and the ways in which they do them are always interesting as mere facts, but how much wiser might we be if we could discover why they do them! Consider the young locust buried in the earth, for example, scarcely yet more than an embryo. How does it know that it is not destined to live here in this dark cavity in which it first finds itself? What force activates the mechanism that propels it through the earth? And finally, ​ what tells the creature that liberty is to be found above, and not horizontally or downward? Many people believe that these questions are not to be answered by human knowledge, but the scientist has faith in the ultimate solution of all problems, at least in terms of the elemental forces that control the activities of the universe.

We know that all the activities of animals depend upon the nervous system, within which a form of energy res >

Fig. 7. Eggs of a species of katydid attached to a twig; the young insect in the successive stages of emerging from an egg; and the newly-hatched young

Insects hatched from eggs laid in the open may begin life under conditions a little easier than those imposed upon the young grasshopper. Here, for example (Fig. 7), are some eggs of insects belonging to the katydid family. They look like flat oval seeds stuck in overlapping rows, some on a twig, others along the edge of a leaf. When about to hatch, each egg splits halfway down one edge and crosswise on the exposed flat surface, allowing a flap to open on this side, which gives an easy exit to the young insect about to emerge. The latter is inclosed in a delicate transparent sheath, within which its long legs and antennae are closely doubled up beneath the body; but when the egg breaks open, the sheath splits also, and as the young insect emerges it sheds the skin and leaves it within the shell. The new creature has nothing to do now but to stretch its long legs, upon which it walks away, and, if given suitable food, it will soon be contentedly feeding.

Let us now take closer notice of the little grasshoppers (Fig. 8) that have just come into the great world from the dark subterranean chambers of their egg-pods. Such an inordinately large head surely, you would say, must overbalance the short tapering body, though supported on three pairs of legs. But, whatever the proportions, nature’s works never have the appearance of being out of drawing; because of some law of recompense, they never give you the uneasy feeling of an error in construction. In spite of its enormous head, the grasshopper infant is an agile creature. Its six legs are all attached to the part of the body immediately behind the head, which is known as the thorax (Fig. 63, Th), and the rest of the body, called the abdomen (Ab), projects free without support. An insect, according to its name, is a creature divided into parts, for “insect” means “in-cut.” A fly or a wasp, therefore, comes closer to being the ideal insect; but, while not literally insected between the thorax and abdomen, the grasshopper, like the fly and the wasp and all other insects, consists of a ​ head, a thorax bearing the legs, and a terminal abdomen (Fig. 63). On the head is located a pair of long, slender antennae (Ant) and a pair of large eyes (E). Winged insects have usually two pairs of wings attached to the back of the thorax (W 2 , W 3 ).

Fig . 8. A young grasshopper, or nymph, in the second stage after hatching

Fig . The metamorphosis of a grasshopper, Melanoplus atlanus, showing its six stages of development from the newly-hatched nymph to the fully-winged adult. (Twice natural size)

Most young insects grow rapidly because they must compress their entire lives within the limits of a single season. Generally a few weeks suffice for them to reach maturity, or at least the mature growth of the form in which they leave the egg, for, as we shall see, many insects complicate their lives by having several different stages, in each of which they present quite a different form. The grasshopper, however, is an insect that grows by a direct course from its form at hatching to that of the adult, and at all stages it is recognizable as a grasshopper (Fig. 9). A young moth, on the other hand, hatching in the ​ form of a caterpillar, has no resemblance to its parent, and the same is true of a young fly, which is a maggot, and of the grublike young of a bee. The changes of form that insects undergo during their growth are known as metamorphosis. There are different degrees of such transformation; the grasshopper and its relatives have a simple metamorphosis.

An insect differs from a vertebrate animal in that its muscles are attached to its skin. Most species of insects have the skin hardened by the formation of a strong outside cuticula to give a firm support to the muscles and to resist their pull. This function of the cuticula, however, imposes a condition of permanency on it after it is once formed. As a consequence the growing insect is confronted with the alternatives, after reaching a certain size, of being cramped to death within its own skin, or of discarding the old covering and getting a new and larger one. It has adopted the course of expedlency, and periodically molts. Thus it comes about that the life of an insect progresses by stages separated by the molts, or the shedding of the cuticula.

The grasshopper makes six molts between the time of hatching and its attainment of the final adult form, a period of about six weeks, and goes through six post-embryonic stages (Fig. 9). The first molt is the shedding of the embryonic skin, which, we have seen, takes place normally as soon as the young insect emerges from the earth. The grasshopper now lives uneventfully for about a week, feeding by preference on young clover leaves, but taking almost any green thing at hand. During this time its abdomen lengthens by the extension of the membranes between its segments, but the hard parts of the body do not change either in size or in shape. At the end of seven or eight days, the insect ceases its activities and remains quiet for a while until the cuticula opens in a lengthwise split over the back of the thorax and on the top of the head. The dead skin is then cast off, or rather, the ​ grasshopper emerges from it, carefully pulling its legs and antennae from their containing sheaths. The whole process consumes only a few minutes. The emerged grasshopper is now entering its third stage after hatching, but the shedding of the hatching skin is usually not counted in the series of molts, and the first subsequent molt, then, we will say, ushers it into its second stage of aboveground life. In this state the insect is different in some respects from what it was in the first stage: it is not only larger, but the body is longer in proportion to the size of the head, as are also the antennae, and particularly the hind legs. Again the insect becomes active and pursues its routine life for another week; then it undergoes a second molting, accompanied by changes in form and proportions that make it a little more like a mature grasshopper. After shedding its cuticula on three succeeding occasions, it appears in the adult form, which it will retain throughout the remainder of its life.

The grasshopper developed its legs, its antennae, and most of its other organs while it was in the egg. It was hatched, however, without wings, and yet, as everyone knows, most full-grown grasshoppers have two pairs of wings (Fig. 63, W 2 , W 3 ), one pair attached to the back of the middle segment of the thorax, the other to the third segment. It has acquired its wings, therefore, during its growth from youth to maturity, and by examining the insect in its different stages (Fig. 9), we may learn something of how the wings are developed. In the first stage, evidence of the coming wings is scarcely apparent, but in the second, the lower hind angles of the plates covering the back of the second and third thoracic segments are a little enlarged and project very slightly as a pair of lobes. In the third stage, the lobes have increased in size and may now be suspected of being rudiments of the wings, which, indeed, they are. At the next molt, when the insect enters its fourth stage, the little wing pads are turned upward and laid over the back, which disposition not only ​ reverses the natural position of the wings, but brings the hind pair outside the front pair. At the next molt, the wings retain their reversed positions, but they are once more increased in size, though they still remain far short of the dimensions of the wings of an adult grasshopper. At the time of the last molt, the grasshopper takes a position with its head downward on some stem or twig, which it grasps securely with the claws of its feet. Then, when its cuticula splits, it crawls downward out of the skin. Once free, however, it reverses its position, and the wisdom of this act is seen on observing the rapidly expanding and lengthening wings, which can now hang downward and spread out freely without danger of crumpling. In a quarter of an hour the wings have enlarged from small, insignificant pads to long, thin, membranous fans that reach to the tip of the body. This rapid growth is explained by the fact that the wings are hollow sacs; their visible increase in size is a mere distention of their wrinkled walls, for they were fully formed beneath the old cuticula and lay there before the molt as little crumpled wads, which, when released by the removal of the cases that cramped them, rapidly spread out to their full dimensions. Their thin, soft walls then come together, dry, and harden, and the limp, flabby bags are converted into organs of flight.

It is important to understand the process of molting as it takes place in the grasshopper, because the processes of metamorphosis, such as those which accomplish the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly, differ only in degree from those that accompany the shedding of the skin between any two stages of the grasshopper’s life. The principal growth of the insect is made during those resting periods preceding the molts. It is then that the various parts enlarge and make whatever alterations in shape they are to have. The old cuticula is already loosened and the changes go on beneath it, while at the same time a new cuticula is generated over the remodeled surfaces. The ​ increased size of the antennae, legs, and wings causes them to be compressed in the narrow space between the new and the old cuticula, and, when the latter is cast off, the crumpled appendages expand to their full size. The observer then gets the impression that he is witnessing a sudden transformation. The impression, however, is a false one; what is really going on is comparable with the display of new dresses and coats that the merchant puts into his show windows at the proper season for their use, which he has just unpacked from their cases but which were produced in the factories long before.

The adult grasshoppers lead prosaic lives, but, like a great many good people, they fill the places allotted to them in the world, and see to it that there will be other occupants of their own kind for these same places when they themselves are forced to vacate. If they seldom fly high, it is because it is not the nature of locusts to do so; and if, in the East, one does sometimes soar above his fellows, he accomplishes nothing, unless he happens to land on the upper regions of a Manhattan skyscraper, when he may attain the glory of a newspaper mention of his exploit—most likely, though, with his name spelled wrong.

On the other hand, like all common folk born to obscurity and enduring impotency as individuals, the grasshopper in masses of his kind becomes a formidable creature. Plagues of locusts are of historic renown in countries south of the Mediterranean, and even in our own country hordes of grasshoppers known as the Rocky Mountain locust did such damage at one time in the States of the Middle West that the government sent out a commission of entomologists to investigate them. This was in the years following the Civil War, when, for some reason, the locusts that normaily inhabited the Northwest, east of the Rocky Mountains, became dissatisfied with their usual breeding grounds and migrated in great swarms into the States of the Mississippi valley, where they brought destruction to ​ all kinds of crops wherever they chanced to alight. In the new localities they would lay their eggs, and the young of the next season, after acquiring their wings, would migrate back toward the region whence the parent swarm had come the year before.

The entornologists of the investigating commission in the vear 1877 tell us that on a favorable day the migrating locusts “rise early in the forenoon, from eight to ten o’clock, and settle down to eat from four to five in the afternoon. The rate at which they travel is variously estimated from three to fifteen or twenty miles an hour, determined by the velocity of the wind. Thus, insects which began to fly in Montana by the middle of July may not reach Missouri until August or early September, a period of about six weeks elapsing before they reach their destined breeding grounds.” The appearance of a swarrn in the air was described as being like that of “a vast body fleecy clouds,” or a “cloud of snowflakes,” the mass of flying insects “often having a depth that reaches from comparatively near the ground to a height that baffles the keenest eye to distinguish the insects in the upper stratum.” It was estimated that the locusts could fly at an elevation of two and a half miles from the general surface of the ground, or 15,000 feet above sea level. The descending swarm falls upon the country “like a plague or a blight,” said one of the entomologists of the commission, Dr. C. V. Riley, who bas left us the following graphic picture of the circumstances:

The farmer plows and plants. He cultivates in hope, watching his growing grain in graceful, wave-like motion wafted to and fro by the warm summer winds. The green begins to golden; the harvest is at hand. Joy lightens his labor as the fruit of past toil is about to be realized. The day breaks with a smiling sun that sends his ripening rays through laden orchards and promising fields. Kine and stock of every sort are sleek with plenty, and all the earth seems glad. The day grows. Suddenly the sun’s face is darkened, and clouds obscure the sky. The joy of the morn gives way to ominous fear. The day closes, and ravenous Iocust-swarms have fallen upon the land. The ​ morrow comes, and, ah! what a change it brings! The fertile land of promise and plenty has hecome a desolate waste, and old Sol, even at his hightest, shines sadly through an atmosphere alive with myriads of glittering insects.

Even today the farmers of the Middle Western States are often hard put to it to harvest crops, especially alfalfa and grasses, from fields that are teeming with hungry grasshoppers. By two means, principally, they seek relief from the devouring hordes. One method is that of driving across the fields a device known as a “hopperdozer,” which collects the insects bodily and destroys them. The dozer consists essentially of a long shallow pan, twelve or fifteen feet in length, set on low runners and provided with a high back made either of metal or of cloth stretched over a wooden frame. The pan contains water with a thin film of kerosene over it. As the dozer is driven over the field, great numbers of the grasshoppers that fly up before it either land directly in the pan or fall into it after striking the back, and the kerosene film on the water does the rest, for kerosene even in very small quantity is fatal to the insects. In this manner, many bushels of dead locusts are taken often from each acre of an alfalfa field; but still great numbers of them escape, and the dozer naturally can not be used on rough or uneven ground, in pastures, or in fields with standing crops. A more generally effective method of killing the pests is that of poisoning them. A mixture is prepared of bran, arsenic, cheap molasses, and water, sufficiently moist to adhere in small lumps, with usually some substance added which is supposed to make the “mash” more attractive to the insects. The deadly bait is then finely broadcast over the infested fields.

While such methods of destruction are effective, they bear the crude and commonplace stamp of human ways. See how the thing is done when insect contends against insect. A fly, not an ordinary fly, but one known to entomologists as Sarcophaga kellyi (Fig. 10), being named after Dr. E. O. G. Kelly, who has given us a ​ description of its habits, frequents the fields in Kansas where grasshoppers are abundant. Indiv >

Fig . 10. A fly whose larvae are parasitic on grasshoppers, Sarcophaga kellyi. (Much enlarged)

In form, the young Sarcophaga kellyi does not differ particularly from the maggots of other kinds of flies, but the Sarcophaga flies in general differ from most other insects in that their eggs are hatched within the bodies of the females, and these flies, therefore, give birth to young maggots instead of iaying eggs. The female of Sarcophaga kellyi, then, when she launches her attack on the flying grasshopper, is munitioned with a load of young maggots ready to be discharged and stuck by the moisture of their ​ bodies to the object of contact. The young parasites thus palmed off by their mother on the grasshopper, who has no idea what has happened to him, make their way to the base of the wing of their unwitting host, where they find a tender membranous area which they penetrate and thereby enter the body of the victim. Here they feed upon the liquids or tissues of the now helpless insect and grow to maturity in from ten to thirty days. Meanwhile, however, the grasshopper bas died; and when the parasites are full grown, they leave the dead body and bury themselves in the earth to a depth of from two to six inches. Here they undergo the transformation that will give them the form of their parents, and when they attain this stage they issue from the earth as adult winged flies. Thus, one insect is destroyed that another may live.

ls the Sarcophaga kellyi a creature of uncanny shrewdness, an ingenious inventor of a novel way for avoiding the work of caring for her offspring? Certainly her method is an improvement on that of leaving one’s newborn progeny on a stranger’s doorstep, for the victim of the fly must accept the responsibility thrust upon him whether he will or not. But Doctor Kelly tells us that the flies do not know grasshoppers from other flying insects, such as moths and butterflies, in which their maggots do not find congenial hosts and never reach maturity. Furthermore, he says, the ardent fly mothers will go after pieces of crumpled paper thrown into the wind and will discharge their maggots upon them, to which the helpless infants cling without hope of survival. Such performances, and many similar ones that could be recounted of other insects, show that instinct is indeed blind and depends, not upon foresight, but on some mechanical action of the nervous system, which gives the desired result in the majority of cases but which is not guarded against unusual conditions or emergencies.

When we consider the many perfected instincts among insects, we are often shocked to find apparent cases of ​ flagrant neglect on the part of nature for her creatures, where it would seem a remedy for their ills would be easy to supply.

In human society of modern times the criminal element has come to look no different from the law-ab >

Fig 11. Two blister beetles whose larvae feed on grasshopper eggs. (Twice natural size)
A. Epicauta marginata. B, Epicauta vittata

Fig . 12. The first-stage larva, or “triungulin,” of the striped blister beetle (fig. 11 B). Enlarged 12 times.
(From Riley)

From July till the middle of October the eggs are being laid in the ground in loose, irregular masses of about 130 on an average—the female excavating a hole for the purpose, and afterwards covering up the mass by scratching with her feet. She lays at several different intervals, producing in the aggregate probably from four to five hundred ova. She prefers for purposes of oviposition the very same warm sunny locations chosen by the locusts, and doubtless instinctively places ner eggs near those of these last, as I have on several occasions found them in close proximity. In the course of about 10 days—more or less according to the temperature of the ground—the first larva or triungulin hatches. These little triungulins (Fig. 12), at first feeble and perfectly white, soon assume their natural light-brown color and commence to move about. At night, or during cold or wet weather, all those of a batch huddle together with little motion, but when warmed by the sun they become very active, running with their long legs over the ground, and prying with their large heads and strong jaws into every crease and crevice in the soil, into which, in due time, they burrow ​ and hide. As becomes a carnivorous creature whose prey must be industriously sought, they display great powers of endurance, and will survive for a fortnight without food in a moderate temperature. Yet in the search for locust eggs many are, without doubt, doomed to perish, and only the more fortunate succeed in finding appropriate diet.

Reaching a locust egg-pod, our triungulin, by chance, or instinct, or both combined, commences to burrow through the mucous neck, or covering, and makes its first repast thereon. If it bas been long in search, and its jaws are well hardened, it makes quick work through this porous and cellular matter, and at once gnaws away at an egg, first devouring a portion of the shell, and then, in the course of two or three days, sucking up the contents. Should two or more triungulins enter the same egg-pod, a deadly conflict sooner or later ensues until one alone remains the victorious possessor.

The surviving triungulin then attacks a second egg and more or less completely exhausts its contents, when, after about eight days from the time of its hatching, it ceases

Fig . 13. The second-stage larva of the striped blister beetle.
(Frorn Riley)

The grasshoppers’ eggs furnish food for many other insects besides the young blister beetles. There are species of flies and of small wasplike insects whose larvae feed in the egg-pods in much the same manner as do the triungulins, and there are still other species of general feeders that devour the locust eggs as a part of their miscellaneous diet. Notwithstanding all this destruction of the germs of their future progeny, however, the grasshoppers still thrive in abundance, for grasshoppers, like most other insects, put their trust in the admonition that there is safety in numbers. So many eggs are produced and stored away in the ground each season that the whole force of their enemies combined can not destroy them all, and enough are sure to come through intact to render certain the continuance of the species. Thus we see that nature has various ways of accomplishing her ends—she might have given the grasshopper eggs better protection in the pods, but, being usually careless of individuals, she chose to guarantee perpetuance with fertility.


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