Meadow grasshopper

(Short-horned) Grasshopper Facts: They Can Jump, Fly, Change Colors, and Regrow Limbs

The grasshopper is a fascinating creature with its unique hopping and flying ability. These insects are more than just garden nuisances. They’re integral to the balance of the ecosystem. Let’s join us to explore fascinating facts about grasshoppers, delving into their behaviors, habitats, and the ways they interact with both nature and agriculture.

Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Orthoptera
Suborder: Caelifera
Superfamily: Acridoidea
Family: Acrididae

They exist before the dinosaurs

Grasshoppers belong to a group of insects known as Caelifera, which is part of a larger family called Orthoptera. These insects have been around for a very long time—about 300 million years! This means they lived on Earth way before dinosaurs did. Despite many changes on Earth over time, including events that wiped out lots of other species, grasshoppers have managed to survive and adapt to keep living all these years.

Today, there are more than 11,000 different types of grasshoppers. They have a lot in common with the ancients that lived a long time ago. For example, they have 6 legs, with 2 long back legs that help them jump high and far, two sets of wings (one set is stiff and the other set is bendy), and short feelers on their heads. These traits make them different from insects like them, such as katydids and crickets.

A huge grasshopper
A close up of a grasshopper

These species are medium-sized insects that can be anywhere from 1 to 7 centimeters long. Their big eyes help them see predators and find mates easily. They have colors like brown, black, grey, or green to help them hide in their natural environment. But, some species are brightly colored (yellow or orange) to tell predators that they are poisonous. This poison comes from eating toxic plants and keeping the poison in their bodies. However, not all colorful grasshoppers are dangerous. For example, the rainbow grasshopper looks colorful but isn’t poisonous or dangerous at all.

Grasshoppers and locusts are both part of the same big insect family. Even though we call some of them grasshoppers and others locusts, they all belong to a group known for having short antennae, and they’re all part of the Orthoptera order. So, what’s the difference between them? Here is the answer for Grasshopper vs Locust!

Fact: If you see a grasshopper with a stinger, it’s probably an ichneumon wasp. These wasps have a striking red and black body, four wings, and a long stinger that can pack quite a painful punch. Or, that insect is a grasshopper, but the stinger-like thing isn’t actually a stinger at all. It’s called an ovipositor, and it’s used for laying eggs, not for stinging.

In movies and cartoons

Grasshoppers have been featured in various cartoons, movies, and films, each with their own unique roles and traits. Let’s take a look at some memorable examples:

  • A Bug’s Life (1998): In this animated film, the grasshopper serves as the main villain. Leading a gang of grasshoppers, they intimidate a colony of ants to provide them with food.
  • The Grasshopper and the Ants (1934): This American animated short film, part of the Silly Symphonies series, adapts Aesop’s Fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper.” It follows a grasshopper named Hop who learns the importance of hard work from ants during the winter season.
  • Peterchens Mondfahrt (1990): This movie features a male grasshopper or cricket who plays the violin. He takes two children on a journey to space, exploring different planets and facing challenges, including a big monster.
  • James and the Giant Peach (1996): In this Disney stop-motion animation film, the grasshopper character is brought to life through puppetry.
  • Pokémon: Within the Pokémon series, there are grasshopper-inspired Pokémon such as Nymble and Lokix. Nymble evolves into Lokix at level 24, and Lokix is introduced in Generation IX as a dual-type Bug/Dark Pokémon.


Grasshoppers can live almost anywhere in the world except for the very cold places near the North and South Poles. They are found in many different environments, like hot deserts, cool grasslands, or lush rainforests. You can find them in fields and meadows where there’s plenty of food. Their ability to adapt to different surroundings and weather types helps them survive in all these various places.

Fact: The green bugs that look like grasshoppers is the Straight-lanced Meadow Katydid

They have ears on their abdomens

Grasshoppers have a unique way of hearing that’s different from humans. Instead of ears on their heads, they have them on their abdomens. These special ears, called tympanal organs, are made of thin, sensitive membranes found on each side of the first abdominal segment, right under their wings. With these organs, grasshoppers can sense vibrations in sound, which is super important for their communication, especially during mating.

Unlike human ears that pick up on pitch, grasshopper ears are better at noticing changes in sound intensity and rhythm. This fits perfectly with their needs because the sounds male grasshoppers make to attract mates aren’t musical. Each species of grasshopper has its own unique rhythm. This helps them find and attract the right mates among their own kind.


Grasshoppers are herbivores, mostly eating plants like grass, leaves, and crops like wheat, corn, barley, cotton, etc. But some of them also display omnivorous behavior by eating other insects, whether they are alive or dead, and sometimes even dead animals. They usually do this when plant food is hard to find or when they come across an easy meal.

Their nymphs primarily feed on the same vegetation as adult grasshoppers. However, due to their less developed mouthparts, they prefer softer shoots.

Even though these insects are quite small, about one and a half inches long when fully grown, they can eat a lot! In fact, these species can eat up to 16 times their own weight in food. That’s like a tiny insect, eating a huge amount of plants, which can sometimes cause huge damage to vegetation.

A grasshopper is eating
Dogs and cats can eat grasshoppers, but it’s best to be cautious. While grasshoppers aren’t toxic to pets, eating too many can upset their stomachs, especially if they’ve been exposed to pesticides or parasites.

The insects have quite a few predators, such as birds, praying mantises, spiders, flies, snakes, and mice. To protect themselves, grasshoppers can do a few things, like hiding in the grass or blending in with leaves. If you’ve ever tried catching them in a field, you know how fast they can vanish by dropping down into the tall grass. They can also release a bad-smelling liquid, make loud noises by rubbing their wings together, or spit out a brown liquid and then quickly catapult themselves up and fly away. Some people think this brown spit is “tobacco juice,” but it’s really just another way grasshoppers try to keep enemies away. However, all of these defense mechanisms are useless before the attacks of grasshopper parasites.

They are also eaten by humans. People in some parts of the world, like Asia, Africa, and Mexico, consume grasshoppers as food. They are a good source of protein and can be cooked in different ways, such as frying, roasting, or baking. These species are seen as a smart choice for food because they are nutritious and better for the environment compared to regular meat. They are said to have a crunchy texture and a taste like crunchy prawns or deep-fried chicken legs.

They have incredible abilities

Grasshoppers exhibit remarkable adaptations that enable them to thrive in diverse environments, ranging from deserts to cold regions. With the abilities below, you’ll understand why these species can handle different situations and places.

These insects are known for their extraordinary jumping ability, capable of leaping up to 20 times their body length. Imagine if you could jump as far as a basketball or football field in just one leap. This is possible for grasshoppers because of their strong back legs, which work like tiny catapults. When a grasshopper gets ready to jump, it tightens up muscles in its legs and bends them. Inside the knee, there’s a special part that acts like a spring, holding onto energy. Then, when the grasshopper loosens its muscles, this energy bursts out, shooting them up into the air.

Some species can do more than just jump really high; they can also fly far away. This skill is super important for them to survive tough times, like not having enough water or food. By flying, they can find new places to live and eat. For instance, Desert Locusts can move in big groups over oceans and different countries to find food, with the wind helping them along.

These insects have some cool tricks up their sleeve. Like the axolotls, they can grow back a leg if they lose one. This ability is super important for living out in the wild. Their abilities don’t stop there. The species also have chameleon ability. Some grasshoppers can change their color to match their environments. This trick helps them hide from enemies by blending in with things like leaves or dirt. The change in color can depend on the weather, how wet or dry it is, and the colors of their surroundings.

They have their own songs

Grasshoppers are most active during the day but can also be seen feeding at night. Unlike some animals, they don’t build nests or claim territories for themselves. Instead, some types of grasshoppers embark on long journeys to find food. While most grasshoppers prefer to live alone and only come together to mate, there are migratory species that form massive groups, sometimes numbering in the millions or even billions.

These insects can bite, but their bites typically aren’t something humans need to worry about. These bites are usually harmless, not painful, and don’t have venom, so they don’t spread diseases. They might bite if they feel threatened, confuse human skin for plants, or act aggressively.

These insects are famous for making unique sounds, often called songs. These songs are created in a process called stridulation. Grasshoppers rub their hind legs with rows of ridges against the veined area of their wings, producing chirps or songs. Some species make noises by snapping their wings. Each species has its own special sound used mainly for communication. Both males and females can make noises, but males are typically louder.

These sounds are vital in mating rituals and serve various purposes, such as indicating their availability, challenging other males, or attracting females for mating. The songs also tell the females about the male’s health and strength.

The life cycle of a grasshopper

The mating season of grasshoppers occurs in late summer or early fall. During this time, males try to impress females by doing different things like posing, showing off their colorful wings, and singing. Some even dance by moving their antennae or wings.

Once the courtship is successful, they start to reproduce. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to more than a day, depending on the different kinds of grasshoppers. After mating, females use ovipositors located at the end of their abdomen to lay eggs underground. But not all grasshoppers follow this pattern. Some types prefer to lay their eggs close to their food sources or in specific types of environments, like among plants, which are better for their babies’ chances of survival.

Females can lay hundreds of eggs many times during their lives. This helps ensure the survival of the species since many of these eggs are eaten by predators. Their eggs are destroyed by pathogens, ants, wasps, and fungi before they can hatch.

A female grasshopper is laying eggs to the ground
The grasshopper undergoes incomplete metamorphosis with 3 life stages: eggs – nymphs – adults

These eggs are small and have colors like white, cream, or pale brown, looking a lot like grains of rice. They’re usually laid in groups and covered in a protective foam that hardens, making them blend in with the soil and hard to spot. The survival of eggs is affected by how deep they are laid. Eggs laid closer to the surface are at higher risk, especially during events like wildfires.

These eggs remain dormant throughout the winter and hatch into nymphs or hoppers when spring arrives. These nymphs closely resemble adult grasshoppers but lack wings and reproductive organs. The young molt 4 – 5 times to become adults. Upon reaching adulthood, grasshoppers shift their focus to mating, with females beginning mating within a week after their final molt. The average lifespan of a grasshopper is about 1 year.

They are both good and bad

Grasshoppers are important for the ecosystem. They mostly eat plants, which helps keep plant growth in check. When grasshoppers munch on plants, it helps balance out the different kinds of plants around. Their poops add nutrients to the soil, making it better for plants to grow. Additionally, they’re a food source for birds, reptiles, and even humans.

They also act as nature’s warning signs, telling us about the health of ecosystems. When their populations are thriving, it usually means the ecosystem they live in is in good shape. This suggests there’s a nice variety of plants for them to munch on, and the environment is balanced. They are also good pets for beginners.

But when their numbers start acting strange—maybe there are suddenly a lot fewer or so many of them—it’s like a red flag waving. It could mean something’s wrong with the environment. It might mean habitat loss, pollution, or even climate change. These changes affect the plants and soil that the insects rely on, and they can tell us a lot about what’s happening in the ecosystem.

Grasshoppers are good for your garden, but when they gather in large groups, they turn into locusts, and that’s when trouble starts. Locust swarms can cause serious damage to crops and landscapes, leading to food shortages. Looking back, historical records and studies highlight how grasshopper infestations can wreak havoc on economies.

Let’s not forget the 1954 invasion in Kenya, where a swarm of Desert locusts devoured over 75 square miles of plants, both wild and cultivated. In 2006, it was reported that grasshoppers were responsible for causing approximately $1.5 billion in damage to forage crops annually. This event clearly showed how destructive locusts can be when their numbers skyrocket.

If these insects invade your garden, you can say goodbye to grasshoppers with these simple tricks.

Grasshoppers have a complex role in both ecosystems and agriculture. They can sometimes cause damage to crops, but they also play important roles in nature. It’s crucial to understand and control their populations to maintain the health of both ecosystems and agriculture.



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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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