Fascinating Animals

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Archive for the day “December 8, 2012”

Ode to the Grasshopper

grasshopper

Grasshoppers and Crickets

The grasshopper is an insect of the suborder Caelifera in the order Orthoptera. To distinguish it from bush crickets or katydids, it is sometimes referred to as the short-horned grasshopper. Locusts are the swarming phase of certain species of short-horned grasshoppers in the family Acrididae, and are known to be pests sometimes. However, I wrote the poem below about the Grasshopper years ago, after I caught a baby grass-hopper in my Bug catcher, and then wanted to capture what I thought are the unique features of “the Grass-hopper.”

Around 18000 kinds of grasshoppers are known to humankind today and can be found across the globe, except the north and south pole regions, where the temperatures are extremely low. They are predominantly found in the temperate regions.  The biggest Grasshoppers are about 4.5 inches (11.5 centimetres) long. Their legs are long hind legs that are used for hopping and jumping. The short front legs are used to hold prey and to walk.

The grasshopper  has two large eyes called compound eyes, one on each side of its head.  They are composed of many hexagonal lenses, which may mean the insect perceives multiple pictures of the same image.   More likely, it means each lens picks up certain intensities or pixels of an image, and looking through all the lenses puts just one final image together.  The grasshopper has three simple eyes  located between its compound eyes. Simple eyes have only one facet. They can see the difference between light and dark only.  Compound eyes are a way of seeing more efficiently at the high velocities that some insects travel at.   The more lenses, the higher the resolution (or detail) of the image.

If you must know why an insect’s compound eyes are so large, please read this link   here  on “insect vision”, which I tried to do, but it made my head hurt (because it is rather technical).

A Grasshopper’s hearing organ is called the “tympanum” and is located on the abdomen.   The abdominal segments each have a tiny pin-hole called the spiracle, and together, the spiracles allow gas exchange.   Spiracles are tracheal openings in the exoskeleton of a spider (Arachnid) or insect, through which air is admitted and expelled.  They are equivalent to vertebrate lungs, and where human beings inhale oxygen through their noses, Grasshoppers inhale it through their spiracles!

Grasshopper Anatomy

Grasshopper Anatomy

Swarms of Locusts are sometimes confused with swarms of cicadas. Cicadas are actually from a different Order of Insects, being the Order Hemiptera.

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