Little known Facts about Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers are insects which belong to the order Orthoptera. They are arthropods in kingdom Animalia. However, over eighteen thousand species of grasshopper mostly exist in regions where the temperature are low; specifically in the tropical wet forests.

External features

Grasshoppers have well-defined head, thorax, and an abdomen. The head is divided into six segments, which are made up of jointed pair of antennae (which is divided into 20-24 segments), two compound eyes, three simple eyes, and mouth parts. The thorax of a grasshopper has three segments, composing of a pair of wings which are found on the second and third segments. While the abdomen consists of eleven segments, bearing both the reproductive and sensory structures.

Grasshoppers possess five eyes with no ears. The first two large eyes are located on the either sides of the head. These two eyes are their main organs for sight. They also give them the ability to focus on all directions. However, in locating the other three simple eyes, two of them are found at the base of each antennae, while the last one is found between the two antennae. But, the main use of these three simple eyes is still idiopathic.

Since grasshoppers have no ears, they make use of an organ called the tympanal organ for hearing. This organ is very sensitive to sound and vibration; consisting of a membrane known as tympanum, which is associated with the sensory neurones. The tympanal organ is located in the first abdominal segment where the hind limbs are attached.

Metamorphosis

As insects of the suborder Caelifera, grasshoppers undergo incomplete metamorphosis which comprises of the egg, nymph and imago (adult). The nymph is very small and has no wings but, resembles the imago. It mostly feeds on tender grasses. Nevertheless, it moults up to seven times in the growing period of about 30-50 days before transforming into an imago, making all its internal and external features well developed; including the possession of wings.

Diet

Since grasshoppers can not make food on their own, either by making use of sunlight or chemical energy, they are found or classified as Heterotrophs. Grasshoppers are holozoic animals which belong to the group of herbivores. Though, some species are omnivorous. They feed on cereals, cotton, corn, barley and grasses. They chew their food by the possession of a very hard mandible. The mandible is so hard that no predator can chew or digest easily. However, the predator usually vomits or coughs out the mandible after digestion.

By food type, some species of grasshoppers are polyphagous (feeding on a variety of food), while only one specie is monophagous (feeding only on one type of food).

Abilities

One of grasshoppers’ amazing abilities is their ability to sing. Their singing ability is one of their attractive and astonishing nature. Mostly, the males usually sing to attract the females and to warn off other males. Some of them produce the sound by rubbing their wings together or clattering their wings together, or rubbing the pegs on their hind limbs. All these they do in order to create a sound.

In addition, grasshoppers also possess athlete ability. They are good athletes and can perform a long jump of about twenty times their body length. They do this due to their powerful strong hing limbs.

Consumption

Grasshoppers can be served as food or used in dishes. They are source of protein, fat, vitamin and mineral to the body when consumed. Countries such as Southern and Central Mexico, Uganda, and China prepare grasshoppers for consumption in different ways. They can be kept inside a container, containing water for about 24 hours. Later, they can be boiled, flavoured with spices or eaten raw. Methods like frying or drying can also be applied.

In some part of Africa, grasshoppers can be boiled with the addition of salt before drying under the sun, after which they can be consumed as food.