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.
Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native ); ethiopian (Native ); neotropical (Native ); australian (Native ); oceanic islands (Native )
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.
Range length: 1.0 to 7.0 cm.
Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; male more colorful
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.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest
Grasshoppers are herbivores, they eat plants. They mostly eat leaves, but also flowers, stems and seeds. Sometimes they also scavenge dead Insecta for extra protein.
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.
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.
- Carabidae (eat eggs)
- praying mantids
- Araneae (any kind that is big enough)
- Acari (eat eggs, parasites on adults)
- small mammals especially Soricidae
larva of Mermis nigrescens endoparasitises body cavity of Acrididae
Animal / parasitoid
larva of Sarcophila latifrons is parasitoid of Acrididae
Remarks: Other: uncertain
Animal / predator
larva of Stomorhina lunata is predator of egg pod of Acrididae
Other: sole host/prey
Life History and Behavior
Communication and Perception
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.
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.
Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis
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.
After mating, each female produces a clutch of eggs in her abdomen, usually 8-25 eggs. When they are ready, she pushes her abdomen down in the ground and makes a layer of foam. Then she lays the eggs. When the foam dries it forms a tough and waterproof eggpod, and protects the eggs until they hatch. They hatchlings climb up through the foam and out into the world. If they have enough food, and live long enough, each female can produce several egg pods before she dies.
Breeding season: Spring or summer
Range eggs per season: 10.0 to 200.0.
Average eggs per season: 50.0.
Range gestation period: 25.0 (high) weeks.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 8.0 to 50.0 weeks.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 8.0 to 50.0 weeks.
Key Reproductive Features: semelparous ; iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; parthenogenic ; sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous ; sperm-storing
Females try to choose a good place to lay their eggs, but that's the only care they give. They do not take care of their babies.
Parental Investment: no parental involvement
Evolution and Systematics
The intersegmental membranes of a pregnant female locust helps her deposit her eggs about 8 centimeters underground due to stress-softening of the membrane.
"While a stretchy nuchal ligament can act as a shock absorber, a stretchy tendon would undo the shortening of the muscle that it attaches to a bone. The current record holder, the intersegmental membrane of the pregnant female locust, achieved its renown in an investigation by Vincent (1975); it's made of about 12 percent protein and 12 percent chitin, with the rest water, and it undergoes something called 'stress-softening.' Mother locust, a creature of dry habitats, stretches these membranes between her abdominal segments to get her eggs about 8 centimeters underground--deep enough so the desiccated eggs have a reliable source of water. The eggs are kept fairly dry before being expelled, presumably so the locust can hold a large number and still fly." (Vogel 2003:314)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Steven Vogel. 2003. Comparative Biomechanics: Life's Physical World. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 580 p.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
|Specimen Records:||6,536||Public Records:||2,048|
|Specimens with Sequences:||5,684||Public Species:||385|
|Specimens with Barcodes:||5,232||Public BINs:||250|
|Species With Barcodes:||495|
No grasshoppers are known to be endangered.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
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.
Negative Impacts: crop pest
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Grasshoppers are an important food for other animals. Some species eat weed plants that are bad for cattle and horses.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2012)|
The Acrididae are the predominant family of grasshoppers, comprising some 10,000 of the 11,000 species of the entire suborder Caelifera. The Acrididae are best known because all locusts (swarming grasshoppers) are of the Acrididae. The subfamily Oedipodinae is sometimes classified as a distinct family Oedipodidae in the superfamily Acridoidea. Acrididae grasshoppers are characterized by relatively short and stout antennae, and tympana on the side of the first abdominal segment.
Subfamilies and selected genera
- Subfamily Acridinae – silent slant-faced grasshoppers
- Subfamily Calliptaminae
- Subfamily Catantopinae – spur-throated grasshoppers
- Subfamily Chondracris
- Subfamily Copiocerinae
- Subfamily Coptacrinae
- Subfamily Cyrtacanthacridinae – bird grasshoppers
- Subfamily Egnatiinae
- Subfamily Eremogryllinae
- Subfamily Euryphyminae
- Subfamily Eyprepocnemidinae
- Subfamily Gomphocerinae – slant-faced grasshoppers
- Subfamily Habrocneminae
- Subfamily Hemiacridinae
- Subfamily Leptysminae – spur-throat toothpick grasshoppers
- Subfamily Marelliinae
- Subfamily Melanoplinae – spur-throated grasshoppers
- Subfamily Oedipodinae – band-winged grasshoppers
- Subfamily Ommatolampinae
- Subfamily Oxyinae
- Subfamily Pauliniinae
- Subfamily Proctolabinae
- Subfamily Rhytidochrotinae
- Subfamily Romaleinae – lubber grasshoppers
- Subfamily Spathosterninae
- Subfamily Teratodinae
- Subfamily Tropidopolinae
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Acrididae.|
|Wikispecies has information related to: Acrididae|
- David C. Eades; Daniel Otte. Taxa display: family Acrididae in Ortoptera Species File Online. Version 2.0/3.5.
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