Grasshoppers are a type of insect that belongs to the Caelifera suborder. They are the oldest living group of chewing herbivorous insects, dating back to the early Triassic period roughly 250 million years ago.
Grasshoppers are ground-dwelling insects with muscular hind legs that enable them to flee from predators by leaping quickly. They do not go through a complete metamorphosis since they are hemimetabolous insects; they hatch from an egg into a nymph or "hopper" that goes through five molts, growing more similar to the adult insect at each step. Some grasshopper species can change colour and behaviour and form swarms at high population densities and under certain environmental conditions. They are referred to as locusts in this situation.
Grasshopper insects are plant feeders, and a few species can be major pests of cereals, vegetables, and pasture, especially when they swarm in the millions as locusts and devastate crops across large areas. Many species seek to scare predators with a brilliantly coloured wing-flash while jumping and (if adult) launching themselves into the air, usually only flying for a short distance. The rainbow grasshopper, for example, has a warning hue that deters predators. Parasites and illnesses afflict grasshoppers, and many predatory species feed on both nymphs and adults. Parasitoid parasitoids and predators attack the eggs.
Grasshoppers and humans have a long history together. Since Biblical times, swarms of locusts have had devastating impacts and caused famine. The insects can be a major nuisance even in small quantities. Mexico and Indonesia, for example, consume them as food. They appear in literature, art, and symbolism. Acridology is the study of grasshopper species. The large grasshopper is the eastern lubber grasshopper which is a huge, brilliantly coloured grasshopper that is difficult to overlook. Predators are warned by its brilliant orange, yellow, and red colours that it contains poisons that will make them sick. The grasshopper, which is four inches long, is unable to fly. Instead, it makes ungainly short hops. It can also crawl and walk.
Locust Insect: Locusts are solitary by nature, but they can become social if their attitude or habits alter. These species begin to mate in large numbers and explode in size. Wingless nymphs develop into swarms of winged insects as they age. The adult species hurry toward the vegetation development, aiming to eliminate it as quickly as possible. These grasshoppers are among the quickest in the world, capable of covering great distances. Furthermore, wherever they settle, locust insects like to eat green flora.
Evolution of Grasshoppers
Grasshoppers belong to the Caelifera suborder. Although the term "grasshopper" is sometimes used to refer to the entire suborder, some authors limit it to the more "advanced" taxa. They belong to the Acrididea infraorder, and in older publications, they were referred to as "short-horned grasshoppers" to distinguish them from the now-obsolete name "long-horned grasshoppers." A cladogram depicts the Caelifera phylogeny, which is based on mitochondrial ribosomal RNA of thirty-two taxa in six of the seven superfamilies. Except for Pamphagoidea, the Ensifera (crickets, etc.) and Caelifera superfamilies of grasshoppers appear to be monophyletic.
Grasshopper: Types of Grasshopper
Although there isn't enough room to mention all of the known 11,000 species and types of grasshoppers, one of its most distinguishing characteristics is the capacity to leap many times their body length. A grasshopper can jump 10 times its height and 20 times its length in a single jump. They hope to avoid predators or just to get from one location to another. Many species are so well camouflaged that when they hide in tall grass, they appear to vanish. When disturbed, some species, on the other hand, expand their wings and scare potential predators with a dazzling flash of colour. There are different type of grasshopper explained below:
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1. Giant Grasshopper: The enormous grasshopper is the largest of Australia's short-horned (antennae) grasshoppers, with adults reaching 90 mm in length. Adults range in colour from creamy brown to grey. Giant grasshoppers have small antennae and big hind legs for jumping. Between the forelegs, they have a spur or peg on the throat. Giant grasshopper is considered to be the biggest grasshopper.
The Scientific name is: Valanga irregularis
2. Black Grasshopper: Black grasshopper is normally referred to as Romalea.
Romalea is a grasshopper genus found in the United States' south-eastern and south-central regions. Romalea microptera, often known as the eastern lubber grasshopper, Florida lubber, and Florida lubber grasshopper, is a monotypic species.
Scientific name is: Romalea guttata.
3. Flying Grasshopper: The katydid (family Tettigoniidae), also known as the long-horned grasshopper or bushcricket (sometimes written bush cricket), is a nocturnal insect related to crickets (the two groups are in the suborder Ensifera, order Orthoptera) that is known for its mating call.
4. Red Grasshopper: The red-legged grasshopper is a grasshopper species in the Melanoplus genus. In Mexico, the United States, and Canada, it is one of the most prevalent grasshoppers.
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5. Leaf Grasshopper: In Australia, South Africa, Canada, and the United States, insects in the Tettigoniidae family are known as katydids or bush crickets. Previously, they were known as "long-horned grasshoppers." There are almost 6,400 species known. The Tettigoniidae are the sole extant (alive) family in the superfamily Tettigoniidae, and they belong to the Ensifera suborder.
Characteristics of Grasshoppers
Grasshopper insects have a head, thorax, and abdomen that are typical of insects. The mouth is at the bottom of the head, which is held vertically at an angle to the body. The head has a big set of compound eyes for all-around vision, three simple eyes for light and dark detection, and a pair of thread-like antennae for touch and smell. There are two sensory palps in front of the jaws, and the downward-directed mouthparts have been adapted for chewing.
The thorax and abdomen are segmented, with a hard cuticle consisting of overlapping chitin plates. Three pairs of legs and two pairs of wings are attached to the three fused thoracic segments. The tegmina (forewings) are small and leathery, whereas the hindwings are broad and membranous, with veins that provide strength. Claws are attached to the ends of the legs for gripping. The hind leg is especially powerful; the femur is strong and has multiple ridges where different surfaces meet, with stridulatory pegs on the inner ridges in some species. A double row of spines runs down the tibia's posterior edge, and there are two articulated spurs towards its lower end. The muscles that govern the wings and legs are housed in the interior of the thorax.
The tympanal organ and hearing system is located in the first segment of the abdomen, which is united to the thorax. Flexible membranes connect segments two to eight, which are ring-shaped. Segments nine to eleven are smaller; segment nine has two cerci, while segments ten and eleven include reproductive organs. Female grasshoppers have shorter ovipositors than male grasshoppers. The word "Caelifera" derives from the Latin and means "chisel-bearing," which refers to the ovipositor's form.
Those species that make audible noises do so by rubbing a row of pegs on the hind legs against the forewing margins (stridulation). Males primarily make these sounds to attract females, while females in some species also stridulate. Grasshoppers and crickets are similar in appearance, but they differ in several ways, including the number of segments in their antennae, the anatomy of the ovipositor, the placement of the tympanal organ, and the techniques by which sound is created.
The name of the grasshopper provides a hint as to where it can be located. It can be found in settings with a lot of grass and other food plants. This generally refers to any location on the planet that isn't too hot or too cold. Many grasshopper species prefer to live in areas where plants do not grow to be extremely tall, yet others do live in damp woods or rainforests. Grasshoppers can also be found in suburban yards and gardens, as well as urban parks.
What Do Grasshoppers Eat?
Grasshoppers are known for eating a wide variety of plants, including those grown on farms. As a result, they are considered significant pests in many parts of the world. New, fragile leaves, blossoms, and stems are all favourites. Some grasshoppers consume poisonous plants to absorb the poison into their bodies, rendering them unpalatable to predators. They also devour seeds and, on rare occasions, dead insects. When food is scarce, locust insects have been known to consume each other.
Grasshoppers aren't picky about the plants they consume, yet enough pesticide on a plant can kill them. A grasshopper may easily consume 16 times its weight in one sitting.
Grasshopper’s Sensory Organs
Grasshoppers have an insect nervous system and a diverse array of exterior sense organs. A pair of big compound eyes on the side of the head provides a wide field of vision and can detect movement, form, colour, and distance. On the forehead, there are three simple eyes (ocelli) that detect light intensity, as well as a pair of antennae with olfactory (smell) and touch receptors, and mouthparts with gustatory (taste) receptors. A pair of tympanal organs for sound reception is located at the front end of the abdomen. There are countless fine hairs (setae) that operate as mechanoreceptors (touch and wind sensors) all over the body, with the antennae, palps (part of the mouth), and cerci near the tip of the abdomen being the densest. Pressure and cuticle distortion are sensed by specific receptors (campaniform sensillae) implanted in the cuticle of the legs. Internal "chordotonal" sense organs are tailored to detect position and movement around the exoskeleton's joints. Sensory neurons carry information from the receptors to the central nervous system, and most of these have their cell bodies in the periphery, close to the receptor location.
Circulation and Respiration
Grasshoppers have an open circulatory system, similar to other insects, and their body cavities are filled with haemolymph. The fluid is pumped to the skull by a heart-like structure in the upper abdomen, where it percolates past the tissues and organs on its way back to the belly. This system transports nutrients throughout the body and metabolic wastes to the gut for excretion. Wound healing, heat transport, and hydrostatic pressure are all activities of the haemolymph, but the gaseous exchange is not handled by the circulatory system. Tracheae, air-filled tubes that open at the surfaces of the thorax and abdomen through pairs of valved spiracles, are used to breathe. Larger insects may need to actively ventilate their bodies by opening some spiracles while others remain closed, and pumping air through the system with abdominal muscles.
Male-female fights in most grasshopper species rarely progress beyond ritualistic displays. The chameleon grasshopper is an exception, with males fighting on top of ovipositing females, engaged in leg grappling, biting, kicking, and mounting. While she grows in weight and her eggs mature, the newly emerging female grasshopper has a preoviposition stage of a week or two. Most species' females dig a hole with their ovipositor after mating and lay a batch of eggs in a pod in the ground near feeding plants, usually in the summer. She fills the hole with earth and debris after laying the eggs. Corps aquaticum, a semi-aquatic species, deposits the pod directly into plant tissue. In certain species, the eggs in the pod are bonded together by a froth. Most temperate climate species' eggs fall into diapause after a few weeks of development and spend the winter in this state.
Diapause is broken by a sufficiently cold ground temperature, and development resumes once the ground temperature rises beyond a particular threshold. In most cases, the embryos in a pod hatch out within a few minutes of one another. Their exoskeletons stiffen quickly after they shed their membranes. Predators will be able to jump away from these first instar nymphs. Grasshoppers go through an incomplete metamorphosis in which they molt several times, each instar becoming larger and more adult-like, with the wing-buds growing in size. The number of instars varies depending on the species, although it is usually six. The wings are expanded and fully functional after the final molt.
FAQs on Grasshopper
1. What is Grasshopper Good For?
Ans. Grasshoppers are beneficial to the ecology and help to make it a better place for plants and other animals to thrive. They help to maintain a natural equilibrium in the decomposition and renewal of plants. Every day, grasshoppers can consume half of their body weight in plant material. They aid in maintaining a natural equilibrium in the decomposition and renewal of plants. Consuming enough plant life or specific portions of plants that help maintain overgrowth in the region is one of the ways they can do so.
2. Where Can Grasshopper Normally Found?
Ans. Any group of jumping insects (suborder Caelifera) that can be found in a range of settings is known as a grasshopper. Lowland tropical woods, semiarid environments, and grasslands have the most grasshoppers. They can be green, olive, or brown, with yellow or red markings.
3. How Many Grasshoppers are Present in the World?
Ans. On Earth, 11,000 thousand species of grasshoppers dwell in grassy places like fields and meadows, as well as forest and woodland. All grasshopper species, like all insects, have a three-part body made up of the head, thorax, and abdomen. There are 11 native grasshopper species in the UK, including the Common field grasshopper, although about 30 species dwell and breed here.
4. What is the Lifespan of a Grasshopper?
Ans. The lifespan of a grasshopper is around a year. Grasshoppers reproduce in vast quantities. As summer gives way to fall, male and female grasshoppers mate. Male grasshoppers impregnate female grasshoppers, who then lay the eggs that will form the grasshopper population the next summer.