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Ode to the 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.

A cricket

A cricket

Did you know that it is only the males of Grasshoppers and Crickets that “sing”?

Crickets and Katydids are from the order Orthoptera, but they have long antennae and they “sing” by rubbing their forewings together, while Grasshoppers have short antennae and “sing” by rubbing their hind leg against their forewing. Stridulation means rubbing one body part against another, to produce sound.

Crickets are nocturnal (active at night-time and sometimes drive people mad by their loud, constant chirruping or “singing” at night-time when people are trying to sleep) whereas Grasshoppers are diurnal (active during the day). Crickets and some Grasshoppers chirrup either to attract females through their chirping, or when they are in danger. They “sing” faster when the temperatures are higher. At least, when Grasshoppers sing, they do it during the day-time.

If a Cricket is in a room of your house, driving you mad, you can try to pin-point its location by following its noise, then isolate the room it is in (by closing doors and windows) then making the room as cold as you can. The cold will make the insect drowsy and quiet, and hopefully you can find it and then catch it with a glass and paper, and put it out-doors. Try to keep crickets out-doors silent by having short grass, so they don’t have long grass to hide in.

Birds, lizards,mantids, spiders, and rodents eat grasshoppers. Grasshopper droppings contribute to nutrient turnover by returning nutrients as fertilizer for plants. Grasshoppers also provide food for birds and other arthropods. Grasshoppers are around in the spring and summer, but are most noticeable in the autumn.

Classification of Grasshoppers

Kingdom Animalia (Animals)

Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)

Class Insecta (Insects)

Order Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids)

Suborder Caelifera (Grasshoppers)

Family Acrididae (Short-horned Grasshoppers)

My poem about the Grasshopper

Ode to the Grasshopper

I am the Grass-hopper on wing

With long bent legs I spring

My feelers twitch to feel ahead

On leaf and limb I tread

My six legs help me move

My tympana (ear-drums) help me move to the groove

With five eyes I can see side, front and back

I rub a leg against a wing to play a winning track

I breathe through holes along my side

There’s no reason this fact to hide.

If you were me, you could leap a football field

It’s my powerful hind legs that do this yield

Twenty times my own body length

That is my mobile noble strength

My exoskeleton keeps me trim

You can see that I’m quite slim

I like jumping to run and for fun

Please, join me, everyone

Finally, if you usually hear crickets and like hearing them, and one day there is a strange silence, this article here may shed some light upon the reason for the “silence of the crickets”.

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