Learning about grasshoppers can be a daunting task, as grasshoppers are among the more populous species of insect, with there being well over four hundred known species of grasshopper around the world. For bug collectors, it is important to know what distinguishes a grasshopper from a cricket, locust or other member of the Orthoptera order of insects.
The most eye-catching characteristic of a grasshopper is its long hind legs. Grasshoppers are also unique in their appearance thanks in part to their coloring: many grasshoppers are brown with black markings on their femur, while others are green with yellow or white markings. Another way to tell the difference between a grasshopper and a cricket, for example, is to look at both the length and number of segments in the antennae. Grasshopper antennae are smaller than their bodies and consist of between twenty and twenty-four segments. Male and female grasshoppers can be distinguished by their back plates: males have a single plate while females have two triangle-shaped plates. Females use these to dig up sand before laying their eggs.
A grasshopper’s diet consists entirely of plants. This can change slightly from one species of grasshopper to the next; some will eat all kinds of plants while others will only eat grass. This grass-heavy diet is why grasshoppers are common in grassy areas. While large fields are heavily populated by grasshoppers, they can also be found in your front yard. Due to the shape of the grasshopper, grassy areas serve as excellent camouflage to protect them from predators like birds, spiders and certain rodents.
In certain areas of the world, grasshoppers are considered a delicacy. Chapulines are commonly served n markets in central Mexico, while in Africathey are used in soups. Many military forces around the world also suggest that their soldiers eat grasshoppers as a source of protein during survival training.