Grasshopper, common name for any of the winged orthopteran insects with hind legs adapted for jumping. They include the long-horned grasshoppers, pygmy grasshoppers, and short-horned grasshoppers, or locusts. They subsist on vegetation and are distributed worldwide wherever vegetation grows.
Grasshoppers are 3 to 13 cm (1 to 5 in) long when fully grown. They develop by gradual metamorphosis: The nymph is initially wingless and gradually comes to resemble the adult as it grows through progressive molts. Only the adults can fly. Some species undergo seasonal color changes, being green at some times and red or brown at others. The lifespan of the grasshopper varies widely by species and can be greatly affected by environmental conditions. Many kinds of grasshoppers live for approximately three to five months during a typical summer season.
Grasshoppers are closely related to crickets (see Cricket), and male grasshoppers make chirping or stridulating noises similar to those produced by crickets. Females of several species also make sounds. Unlike true crickets and longhorned grasshoppers, shorthorned grasshoppers chirp by rubbing their hind legs or forewings against other parts of their bodies. The eardrums of shorthorned grasshoppers are clear, circular areas located on the abdomen at a point just behind the junction of the hind legs with the body. The hearing organs of longhorned grasshoppers and crickets are located on the forelegs.
Pygmy grasshoppers are the smallest grasshoppers and are characterized by a greatly elongated dorsal shield, a backward extension of the thorax. Longhorned grasshoppers are characterized by antennae that extend beyond the hind end of the body when they are folded back. Females usually lay their eggs in low bushes or in crevices in the bark of trees. Longhorned grasshoppers include the katydids (see Katydid); the meadow grasshoppers, which are slightly less than 3 cm (1 in) long; and the so-called Mormon cricket found in the western United States, which was common near the early Mormon settlement in Salt Lake City, Utah, and did much damage to crops there.
Shorthorned grasshoppers, also known as true grasshoppers, are named for their relatively short antennae. A common species, the American grasshopper, is about 10 cm (about 4 in) long when fully grown. In the fall, females lay their eggs in holes in the ground. The eggs hatch in the spring, and the young reach maturity in July or August. When some shorthorned grasshoppers reproduce too rapidly for their food supply to support them, subsequent generations undergo extensive changes in form and become migratory. Such shorthorned grasshoppers are known as locusts.
Grasshoppers belong to the order Orthoptera. Longhorned grasshoppers make up the family Tettigoniidae. The Mormon cricket is classified as Anabrus simplex. Pygmy grasshoppers make up the family Tetrigidae. Shorthorned grasshoppers make up the family Acrididae. The American grasshopper is classified as Schistocerca americana.
Anatomy of a Grasshopper
This illustration of a grasshopper depicts the tiny circular openings called spiracles through which most insects obtain oxygen. From the spiracles, tubes called tracheae reach deep within the body to supply oxygen to every cell.
Acrididae (Swarming Grasshopper)
- Swarming (climb using arms and legs; a group of insects in flight) grasshopper: a migratory grasshopper that often swarms and devours crops and vegetation. Native to: southern Europe, Asia, Africa, North America.
- Family: Acrididae
The true locust is one of over 5000 species of grasshopper in the family Acrididae. Locusts travel in huge numbers capable of feeding on and destroying entire fields of cultivated plants and any nearby vegetation. Approaching swarms create an ominous hum and sometimes are large enough to block out sunlight.
Importance and key characteristics of Acrididae (Grasshopper)
- These cause great damage to crops wherever they swarm.
- Scientific classification: Locusts belong to the order Orthoptera. True locusts belong to the family Acrididae. Grouse, or pygmy, locusts belong to the family Tetrigidae
- Found predominantly in the hotter regions
- Stridulating (to make a chirping or grating sound by rubbing parts of the body together, as male crickets and grasshoppers do) take place in several ways
- Tegmen (the forewing of a primitive insect) is different from Gryllidae on the aspect of physiology and morphology
- Tegmen produce a low buzzing sound and vibration
- Some spp are able to stridulate (to make a chirping or grating sound by rubbing parts of the body together, as male crickets and grasshoppers do) during flight
- The auditory organs are located on each side of the abdomen
- Four to eight ecdysis (shedding of an outer layer: the regular molting of an outer layer by arthropods such as insects and crustaceans, and by reptiles)
Nature of Damage:
- The female creates a hole in the decaying wood
- Some spp are primarily grass feeders by nature and damage wide ranges of the area.
- Some eat broad leave trees causing damage to the physiology of the plant.
- Control measures include the spreading of poison bait and the plowing under of locust eggs.
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