Grasshopper vs Locust, Cricket, and Katydid

Despite their distinct names, grasshoppers, locusts, katydids, and crickets share striking physical resemblances that often lead to confusion. From their slender bodies with jumping legs to their distinctive sounds, it’s quite hard to differentiate between these orthopteran insects. Join us as we explore the intriguing differences and similarities between these closely related, yet distinctly unique creatures.

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Grasshopper vs Locust

We all know that grasshoppers are good for our gardens while locusts are not. They are in the same family with the same appearance. So, what is the difference between grasshoppers and locusts?

All locusts are a type of grasshopper, but not every grasshopper turns into a locust. To be easier to understand, locusts are a few kinds of grasshoppers that start to swarm together under certain situations. This swarming phase is triggered under certain conditions, such as high population densities or specific environmental factors, which can vary by geographic location, weather, and species. When these conditions force grasshoppers into close quarters, their bodies make more of a chemical called serotonin. This increase in serotonin makes them start swarming and also causes them to change quickly in size, color, and behaviors.

Locust vs grasshopper
The locust has more vibrant colors than the grasshopper

What exactly prompts these swarming conditions? Often, it’s the weather. For example, the 1990s witnessed locust outbreaks in Indonesia, driven by droughts and low humidity levels, leading to a breeding frenzy. Similarly, in China and Central Asia, a cycle of flooding followed by dry periods can create a perfect situation for locusts to start mating. Also, in Australia, when it rains during the locust breeding season, it can trigger the swarm.

Human activities, including deforestation, the introduction of invasive species, and letting animals graze too much on delicate grasslands, exacerbate the problem by creating conditions conducive to locust population growth. Moreover, climate change is likely to further enhance these conditions, making swarms more feasible and frequent.

For more in-depth information about grasshoppers, you can check here.

AppearanceLarger, stronger muscles and vibrant colors when swarmingDo not undergo significant physical changes.
HabitatIn dry, barren areas with little rain. They can group up into massive swarms that can travel long distances.In meadows or fields where there’s plenty of food like grasses, leaves, and crops such as wheat, barley, and rice.
BehaviorCan transform from solitary to gregarious and form massive swarms.Generally solitary and do not swarm
Impact on Vegetation
Swarming in locusts can cause significant agricultural damage due to their large numbers.
Typically cause much smaller scale damage to vegetation.
Flying abilityCan fly very farMostly hop
Locust vs Grasshopper

Cricket vs Grasshopper vs Katydid

Crickets and katydids are listed as long-horned grasshoppers, while locusts and grasshoppers are called short-horned grasshoppers. So, besides the length of the antenna, what are the differences between a grasshopper, cricket, and katydid?

FeatureCricketGrasshopperKatydid (Bush Cricket)
Appearance– Cylindrical body
– Long antennae
– Color: green, brown, and grey
– Flattened body
– Short and thick antennae
– Color: brown, yellow, orange, green, and red
– A more leaf-like appearance, including wings that resemble leaves.
– Long and thin antennae, sometimes longer than the body
– Color: green
Number of species2,40011,0008,000
HabitatBurrows, crevices in the soil, logs, under rocks, among dense plant growth, or under leaf litterIn meadows, fields, gardens, deserts, grassy areas, or savannasIn forests, woods, parks, gardens, fields, and among other dense vegetation
DietHerbivores, eating plant stems and leaves.Herbivores, feeding on plant stems and leaves.Primarily herbivores, feeding on leaves, flowers, bark, or seeds. Some species are known to be carnivorous or omnivorous, feeding on other small insects.
Sound productionProduce chirping sounds by rubbing their wings togetherCreate chirping noises by rubbing their hind legs with their wings.Produce sounds by rubbing a special part on their forewings together, resulting in a high-pitched noise
Ear positionOn front legsOn the base of the abdomenOn front leg, just below the knee
Behavior– Nocturnal, active at night
– Can jump
– Diurnal, active during the day
– Can fly and jump
– Nocturnal
– Can jump
Katydid vs Grasshopper vs Cricket

Despite their differences, katydids, crickets, and grasshoppers play significant roles in their ecosystems, serving as food for a variety of predators. Their distinct sounds contribute to the biodiversity and auditory landscape of their habitats, enriching the natural chorus, especially during the warmer months. Although grasshoppers occasionally become pests in agricultural settings due to their potential to damage crops.

Reference: Knowable Magazine. (2020, February 4). Locusts and Grasshoppers: Things to Know. Knowable Magazine.


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We are passionate animal enthusiasts with over a decade of experience studying animals. With a degree in zoology and conservation biology, we've contributed to various research and conservation projects. We're excited to bring you engaging content that highlights the wonders of the animal kingdom. We aim to inspire others to appreciate and protect wildlife through informative content grounded in expertise and passion. Join us as we delve into the captivating world of animals and discover the incredible stories they have to tell.

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