Overview

Brief Summary

Orthoptera comprises more than 20000 species worldwide and 1044 species in Europe belonging to two suborders, Caelifera (grasshoppers) and Ensifera (katydids). This group of median-sized insects is well characterized by (1) long hind legs modified for jumping; (2) hardened, leathery forewings (tegmina) which are spread in flight and covering membranous hindwings at rest; (3) unsegmented cerci; and (4), a pronotum usually with large descending lateral lobes. Orthopterans are common in most terrestrial habitats, but are more diverse in the tropics. They are mostly phytophagous and include some outstanding agricultural pests (locusts and certain katydids).

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The insect order Orthoptera includes familiar insects like grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, and katydids.  The members of this group are readily identified by their strong hind legs which are modified for jumping.  Orthopterans are well known for their ability to produce sound.  Crickets and katydids sing by rubbing their front wings together; while grasshoppers and locusts scrape their legs against their forewings to produce their songs.  

  • Borror, D. J., C. A. Triplehorn, and N. F. Johnson. 1989. An Introduction to the Study of Insects. Sixth Edition. Saunders College Publishing, Philadelphia.
  • Grimaldi, D. and M. S. Engel. 2005. Evolution of Insects. Cambridge University Press, New York.
  • Ingrisch, S. and D. C. F. Rentz. 2009. Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Locusts, Katydids, Crickets). Pages 732-743 in Encyclopedia of Insects, V. H. Resh and R. T. Cardé, eds. Academic Press, New York.
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Orthoptera Overview

Order Orthoptera consists of grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets.  More than 20, 000 species have been described.  They vary from about five millimeters to eleven centimeters in length.  They can be found throughout the world, but are more concentrated in tropical areas because they prefer warmth and sunlight.  Species in deserts or grasslands tend to have wings and species inhabiting mountaintops or islands tend to be wingless.  Their legs are long and made for jumping.  Most males rub their wings or legs together to produce vibrations that can be picked up by another individual’s tympanum (ear).  All of the species undergo incomplete metamorphosis.  The nymphs usually molt four or more times before becoming adults.  If a limb is lost, the nymph can regenerate it during the next molt.  Orthopterans can shed limbs voluntarily if a predator grasps it or it gets caught in a spider web.  They can be seen in the fossil record as far back as the Upper Carboniferous-Permian.

  • "Orthoptera." Wikipedia. 2013. .
  • Borror, Donald, Charles Triplehorn, and Norman Johnson. An Introduction to the Study of Insects. 6th ed. Saunders College Publishing, 1989. 208-226. Print.
  • Capinera, John. "Grasshoppers, Katydids, and Crickets (Orthoptera)." Encyclopedia of Entomology. 4. 2008.
  • Gwynne, Darryl T., Laure DeSutter, Paul Flook, and Hugh Rowell. 1996. Orthoptera. Crickets, katydids, grasshoppers, etc.. Version 01 January 1996 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Orthoptera/8250/1996.01.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/
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Distribution

Geographic Range

Species in this group of insects occur on every continent except Antarctica. There are thousands of species in these groups.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native ); ethiopian (Native ); neotropical (Native ); australian (Native ); oceanic islands (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

The common characteristic of these groups their enlarged back legs that they use for jumping. They all have chewing mouthparts too. Most species have leathery front wings, and use their back wings for flying.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; bilateral symmetry ; polymorphic

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

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Ecology

Habitat

These insects occur in just about all the habitats on earth, except in the extreme cold of ice sheets and high mountaintops. There are even some that swim and eat plants underwater!

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial ; freshwater

Terrestrial Biomes: taiga ; desert or dune ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest ; mountains

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds

Wetlands: marsh ; swamp

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Associations

Animal / parasitoid / endoparasitoid
larva of Blaesoxipha is endoparasitoid of Orthoptera
Other: sole host/prey

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Animal / pathogen
colony of Entomophaga grylli infects live adult of Orthoptera

Animal / parasite / endoparasite
larva of Sarcophaga jacobsoni endoparasitises Orthoptera
Other: minor host/prey

Animal / predator / stocks nest with
female of Tachysphex nitidus s.s. stocks nest with Orthoptera

Animal / predator / stocks nest with
female of Tachysphex pompiliformis stocks nest with Orthoptera

Animal / predator / stocks nest with
female of Tachysphex unicolor s.s. stocks nest with Orthoptera

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Known predators

  • A. C. Twomey, The bird population of an elm-maple forest with special reference to aspection, territorialism, and coactions, Ecol. Monogr. 15(2):175-205, from p. 202 (1945).
  • D. I. Rasmussen, Biotic communities of Kaibab Plateau, Arizona, Ecol. Monogr. 11(3):228-275, from p. 261 (1941).
  • E. Holm and C. H. Scholtz, Structure and pattern of the Namib Desert dune ecosystem at Gobabeb, Madoqua 12(1):3-39, from p. 21 (1980).
  • L. D. Harris and L. Paur, A quantitative food web analysis of a shortgrass community, Technical Report No. 154, Grassland Biome. U.S. International Biological Program (1972), from p. 17.
  • P. G. Howes, The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World: A Brief Biology of the Giant Cactus Forest of Our American Southwest (Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, New York; Little, Brown, Boston; 1954), from pp. 222-239, from p. 227.
  • R. D. Bird, Biotic communities of the Aspen Parkland of central Canada, Ecology, 11:356-442, from p. 410 (1930).
  • Waide RB, Reagan WB (eds) (1996) The food web of a tropical rainforest. University of Chicago Press, Chicago
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Known prey organisms

Orthoptera (orthoptera) preys on:
Helianthus
Agropyron
Agrostis
Stipa
leaves
shrubs
grass
herbs
Stipagrostis
Monsonia
Eragrostis
perennials
Schismus barbatus
seeds of other plants
Bouteloua gracilis
Carex
Sporobolus cryptandrus
Pascopyrum smithii
forbs
Ericameria nauseosa
Cleome serrulata
Liatris punctata
Descurainia pinnata
Atriplex canescens
Elymus elymoides
Picradeniopsis oppositifolia
Opuntia macrorhiza
Artemisia frigida
Kochia
lichen forb/shrub
Coleoptera
Diptera
Hymenoptera
Papilionoidea
Orthoptera
Araneae
misc. fur
fin
feather
Arthropoda
Eleutherodactylus coqui
Plantae
live leaves
detritus
Collembola
Isoptera
Auchenorrhyncha
Sternorrhyncha
Formicidae
Acari
Isopoda

Based on studies in:
Canada: Manitoba (Forest)
USA: Illinois (Forest)
USA: Arizona, Sonora Desert (Desert or dune)
USA: Arizona (Forest, Montane)
Namibia, Namib Desert (Desert or dune)
USA: California, Cabrillo Point (Grassland)
Puerto Rico, El Verde (Rainforest)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • A. C. Twomey, The bird population of an elm-maple forest with special reference to aspection, territorialism, and coactions, Ecol. Monogr. 15(2):175-205, from p. 202 (1945).
  • D. I. Rasmussen, Biotic communities of Kaibab Plateau, Arizona, Ecol. Monogr. 11(3):228-275, from p. 261 (1941).
  • E. Holm and C. H. Scholtz, Structure and pattern of the Namib Desert dune ecosystem at Gobabeb, Madoqua 12(1):3-39, from p. 21 (1980).
  • L. D. Harris and L. Paur, A quantitative food web analysis of a shortgrass community, Technical Report No. 154, Grassland Biome. U.S. International Biological Program (1972), from p. 17.
  • P. G. Howes, The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World: A Brief Biology of the Giant Cactus Forest of Our American Southwest (Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, New York; Little, Brown, Boston; 1954), from pp. 222-239, from p. 227.
  • R. D. Bird, Biotic communities of the Aspen Parkland of central Canada, Ecology, 11:356-442, from p. 410 (1930).
  • Waide RB, Reagan WB (eds) (1996) The food web of a tropical rainforest. University of Chicago Press, Chicago
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Development

Orthopterans are hemimetabolous. Females lay eggs, and the babies that hatch out are called nymphs. They look a lot like the adults. As they grow they shed their exoskeleton (usually 5 or 6 times). The last time they shed they emerge as adults, and not until then do they have wings. In temperate climates with cold winters, it is usually the egg stage that survives the winter, though a few species survive the winter as nymphs or adults.

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Reproduction

Mating System: monogamous ; polygynous

Key Reproductive Features: semelparous ; iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; year-round breeding ; parthenogenic ; sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous ; sperm-storing

Parental Investment: no parental involvement

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:19607
Specimens with Sequences:15627
Specimens with Barcodes:13523
Species:1650
Species With Barcodes:1447
Public Records:12861
Public Species:879
Public BINs:1855
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Barcode data

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Negative Impacts: crop pest

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