Animal stories: Grasshoppers
Grasshoppers are insects that can hop, walk, and fly. There are about 18,000 kinds of grasshoppers in the world. Most grasshoppers are green, brown, or olive-green. The colours of the painted grasshopper warn birds not to eat them. Painted grasshoppers hatch in May or June.
They have a three-part body (head, thorax and abdomen), six jointed legs, two pairs of wings, and two antennae. Their body is covered with a hard exoskeleton. Their long hind legs are used for hopping. The short front legs are used to hold prey and to walk.
They have five eyes and can see to the front, to the side, and to the back. They breathe through holes called spiracles that are located along the sides of the body. Grasshoppers have no ears. They hear with an organ called tympanum. Grasshoppers ‘sing’ to attract females. They rub two wings together or rub their leg on a wing. Each grasshopper has a different song. They only sing when the sun shines.
Grasshoppers can live in all kinds of habitats. They can be found almost everywhere in the world, except for the colder regions near the North and South poles. They live in fields, meadows, and just about anywhere they can find generous amounts of leaves to eat. Lots of grasshoppers live in in grasslands and in forests. Some grasshoppers live in caves, dessert
and bogs. Favourite food Grasshoppers eat grasses and other plants. They are herbivores. But some long-horned grasshoppers also eat dead animals or catch and eat other insects. Some types of grasshoppers will only eat certain types of plants.
Grasshoppers have strong jaws that are great for chomping. And hoppers eat a lot too. Sometimes they become a problem to farmers by eating their crops. They can be a pest to farmers too when they eat farm crops.
The grasshopper has three stages of growth. All grasshoppers begin their lives as eggs. They are laid in the soil of the habitat and develop hidden from the view of humans. Eggs are covered with a paste-like liquid that will protect them during the winter. Eggs hatch into nymphs, which look like little adults without wings and reproductive organs. Nymphs grow for 40 to 60 days before they become adults. The nymph becomes an adult insect when it has wings and can fly.
A grasshopper’s full size depends on what kind of hopper it is. The largest species is about six inches long. The smallest species is less than one-quarter of an inch long.
Grasshoppers protect themselves from enemies by jumping or flying away. Their colour helps them hide on leaves if the grasshopper is green, or on rocks or on the ground if the grasshopper is brown. They also bite their enemies with their strong jaws.
Their predators include beetles, birds, lizards, mice, snakes and spiders. Another dangerous enemy of the grasshopper is the shoe. The shoe comes in various shapes and sizes, but all are equally dangerous to the grasshopper as they might be stepped on by one.