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Grasshopper

Grasshopper

Overview
The grasshopper is an insect
Insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

 of the suborder Caelifera in the order Orthoptera
Orthoptera
Orthoptera is an order of insects with paurometabolous or incomplete metamorphosis, including the grasshoppers, crickets and locusts.Many insects in this order produce sound by rubbing their wings against each other or their legs, the wings or legs containing rows of corrugated bumps...

. To distinguish it from bush crickets or katydids
Tettigoniidae
The family Tettigoniidae, known in American English as katydids and in British English as bush-crickets, contains more than 6,400 species. It is part of the suborder Ensifera and the only family in the superfamily Tettigonioidea. They are also known as long-horned grasshoppers, although they are...

, it is sometimes referred to as the short-horned grasshopper. Species that change colour and behaviour at high population densities are called locust
Locust
Locusts are the swarming phase of short-horned grasshoppers of the family Acrididae. These are species that can breed rapidly under suitable conditions and subsequently become gregarious and migratory...

s.

Grasshoppers have antennae
Antenna (biology)
Antennae in biology have historically been paired appendages used for sensing in arthropods. More recently, the term has also been applied to cilium structures present in most cell types of eukaryotes....

 that are generally shorter than their body and short ovipositor
Ovipositor
The ovipositor is an organ used by some animals for oviposition, i.e., the laying of eggs. It consists of a maximum of three pairs of appendages formed to transmit the egg, to prepare a place for it, and to place it properly...

s. They also have pinchers or mandibles
Mandible (insect)
Insect mandibles are a pair of appendages near the insect’s mouth, and the most anterior of the three pairs of oral appendages . Their function is typically to grasp, crush, or cut the insect’s food, or to defend against predators or rivals...

 that cut and tear off food.
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Encyclopedia
The grasshopper is an insect
Insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

 of the suborder Caelifera in the order Orthoptera
Orthoptera
Orthoptera is an order of insects with paurometabolous or incomplete metamorphosis, including the grasshoppers, crickets and locusts.Many insects in this order produce sound by rubbing their wings against each other or their legs, the wings or legs containing rows of corrugated bumps...

. To distinguish it from bush crickets or katydids
Tettigoniidae
The family Tettigoniidae, known in American English as katydids and in British English as bush-crickets, contains more than 6,400 species. It is part of the suborder Ensifera and the only family in the superfamily Tettigonioidea. They are also known as long-horned grasshoppers, although they are...

, it is sometimes referred to as the short-horned grasshopper. Species that change colour and behaviour at high population densities are called locust
Locust
Locusts are the swarming phase of short-horned grasshoppers of the family Acrididae. These are species that can breed rapidly under suitable conditions and subsequently become gregarious and migratory...

s.

Characteristics


Grasshoppers have antennae
Antenna (biology)
Antennae in biology have historically been paired appendages used for sensing in arthropods. More recently, the term has also been applied to cilium structures present in most cell types of eukaryotes....

 that are generally shorter than their body and short ovipositor
Ovipositor
The ovipositor is an organ used by some animals for oviposition, i.e., the laying of eggs. It consists of a maximum of three pairs of appendages formed to transmit the egg, to prepare a place for it, and to place it properly...

s. They also have pinchers or mandibles
Mandible (insect)
Insect mandibles are a pair of appendages near the insect’s mouth, and the most anterior of the three pairs of oral appendages . Their function is typically to grasp, crush, or cut the insect’s food, or to defend against predators or rivals...

 that cut and tear off food. Those species that make easily heard noises usually do so by rubbing the hind femurs against the forewings or abdomen (stridulation
Stridulation
Stridulation is the act of producing sound by rubbing together certain body parts. This behavior is mostly associated with insects, but other animals are known to do this as well, such as a number of species of fishes, snakes and spiders...

), or by snapping the wings in flight. Tympana
Tympanal organ
A tympanal organ is a hearing organ in insects, consisting of a membrane stretched across a frame backed by an air sac and associated sensory neurons...

, if present, are on the sides of the first abdominal segment. The hind femora are typically long and strong, fitted for leaping. Generally they are winged, but hind wings are membranous while front wings (tegmina) are coriaceous and not fit for flight. Females are normally larger than males, with short ovipositors. Males have a single unpaired plate at the end of the abdomen. Females have two pairs of valves ( triangles) at the end of the abdomen used to dig in sand when egg laying.

They are easily confused with the other sub-order of Orthoptera, Ensifera
Ensifera
Ensifera is a suborder of the order Orthoptera, comprising insects commonly known as crickets, katydids and bush crickets. "Ensifer" means "sword bearer" in Latin, and refers to the typically elongated and blade-like ovipositor of the females...

 (crickets), but are different in many aspects, such as the number of segments in their antennae and structure of the ovipositor, as well as the location of the tympana
Tympanal organ
A tympanal organ is a hearing organ in insects, consisting of a membrane stretched across a frame backed by an air sac and associated sensory neurons...

 and modes of sound production. Ensiferans have antennae with at least 20-24 segments, and caeliferans have fewer. In evolutionary terms, the split between the Caelifera and the Ensifera is no more recent than the Permo-Triassic boundary (Zeuner 1939).

Diversity and range


Recent estimates (Kevan 1982; Günther, 1980, 1992; Otte 1994-1995; subsequent literature) indicate some 2,400 valid Caeliferan genera and about 11,000 valid species described to date. Many undescribed species exist, especially in tropical wet forests
Rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

. The Caelifera are predominantly tropical.

Diet and digestion


Grasshoppers prefer to eat grasses, leaves and cereal crops. The majority of grasshoppers are polyphagous. Many will eat from multiple host plants in one day, while some prefer to rely on the same host plant. Only one of the 8000 species of grasshopper is monophagous and will only eat a single species of plant.

The digestive system of insects includes a foregut (stomodaeum, the mouth region), a midgut
Midgut
The midgut is the portion of the embryo from which most of the intestines develop. After it bends around the superior mesenteric artery, it is called the "midgut loop"...

 (mesenteron), and a hindgut (proctodaeum, the anal region). The mouth is distinct due to the presence of a mandible and salivary glands. The mandible can chew food very slightly and start mechanical digestion. Salivary glands digest the food chemically, though only carbohydrates in the grasses and such they eat. The mouth leads to the muscular pharynx, and through the esophagus to the crop. The crop has the ability to hold food. From the crop, food enters the gizzard, which has teeth like features in it. From there, food enters the stomach. In the stomach, digestive enzymes mix with the food to break it down. These enzymes originate from the gastric caeca surrounding the stomach. This leads to the malpighian tubule
Malpighian tubule system
The Malpighian tubule system is a type of excretory and osmoregulatory system found in some Uniramia , arachnids and tardigrades....

s. These are the chief excretion organs. The hindgut includes intestine parts (including the ileum and rectum), and exits through the anus. Most food is handled in the midgut, but some food residue as well as waste products from the malpighian tubules are managed in the hindgut. These waste products consist mainly of uric acid
Uric acid
Uric acid is a heterocyclic compound of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen with the formula C5H4N4O3. It forms ions and salts known as urates and acid urates such as ammonium acid urate. Uric acid is created when the body breaks down purine nucleotides. High blood concentrations of uric acid...

, urea
Urea
Urea or carbamide is an organic compound with the chemical formula CO2. The molecule has two —NH2 groups joined by a carbonyl functional group....

 and amino acid
Amino acid
Amino acids are molecules containing an amine group, a carboxylic acid group and a side-chain that varies between different amino acids. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen...

s, and are normally converted into dry pellets before being disposed.

The salivary glands and midgut secrete digestive enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

s. The midgut secretes protease
Protease
A protease is any enzyme that conducts proteolysis, that is, begins protein catabolism by hydrolysis of the peptide bonds that link amino acids together in the polypeptide chain forming the protein....

, lipase
Lipase
A lipase is an enzyme that catalyzes the formation or cleavage of fats . Lipases are a subclass of the esterases.Lipases perform essential roles in the digestion, transport and processing of dietary lipids in most, if not all, living organisms...

, amylase
Amylase
Amylase is an enzyme that catalyses the breakdown of starch into sugars. Amylase is present in human saliva, where it begins the chemical process of digestion. Food that contains much starch but little sugar, such as rice and potato, taste slightly sweet as they are chewed because amylase turns...

, and invertase
Invertase
Invertase is an enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of sucrose . The resulting mixture of fructose and glucose is called inverted sugar syrup. Related to invertases are sucrases. Invertases and sucrases hydrolyze sucrose to give the same mixture of glucose and fructose...

, among other enzymes. The particular ones secreted vary with the different diets of grasshoppers.

Nervous system


The grasshopper's nervous system is controlled by ganglia
Ganglion
In anatomy, a ganglion is a biological tissue mass, most commonly a mass of nerve cell bodies. Cells found in a ganglion are called ganglion cells, though this term is also sometimes used to refer specifically to retinal ganglion cells....

, loose groups of nerve cells which are found in most species more advanced than cnidaria
Cnidaria
Cnidaria is a phylum containing over 9,000 species of animals found exclusively in aquatic and mostly marine environments. Their distinguishing feature is cnidocytes, specialized cells that they use mainly for capturing prey. Their bodies consist of mesoglea, a non-living jelly-like substance,...

ns. In grasshoppers, there are ganglia in each segment as well as a larger set in the head, which are considered the brain
Brain
The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals—only a few primitive invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, sea squirts and starfishes do not have one. It is located in the head, usually close to primary sensory apparatus such as vision, hearing,...

. There is also a neuropile in the centre, through which all ganglia channel signals. The sense organs (sensory neurons) are found near the exterior of the body and consist of tiny hairs (sensilla
Sensilla
A sensillum is an insect sensory organ protruding from the cuticle, or sometime lying within or beneath it. Sensilla are divided in chemical, mechanical , thermal and visual....

), which consist of one sense cell and one nerve fibre, which are each specially calibrated to respond to a certain stimulus. While the sensilla are found all over the body, they are most dense on the antennae
Antenna (biology)
Antennae in biology have historically been paired appendages used for sensing in arthropods. More recently, the term has also been applied to cilium structures present in most cell types of eukaryotes....

, palp
Pedipalp
Pedipalps , are the second pair of appendages of the prosoma in the subphylum Chelicerata. They are traditionally thought to be homologous with mandibles in Crustacea and insects, although more recent studies Pedipalps (commonly shortened to palps or palpi), are the second pair of appendages of the...

s (part of the mouth), and cerci
Cercus
Cerci are paired appendages on the rear-most segments of many arthropods, including insects and arachnids but not crustaceans. Cerci often serve as sensory organs, but they may also be used as weapons or copulation aids, or they may simply be vestigial structures.Typical cerci may appear to be...

 (near the posterior). Grasshoppers also have tympanal organ
Tympanal organ
A tympanal organ is a hearing organ in insects, consisting of a membrane stretched across a frame backed by an air sac and associated sensory neurons...

s for sound reception. Both these and the sensilla are linked to the brain via the neuropile.

Circulation and respiration


Grasshoppers have open circulatory systems, with most of the body fluid (haemolymph) filling body cavities and appendages. The one closed organ, the dorsal vessel, extends from the head through the thorax to the hind end. It is a continuous tube with two regions: the heart, which is restricted to the abdomen; and the aorta, which extends from the heart to the head through the thorax. Haemolymph is pumped forward from the hind end and the sides of the body through a series of valved chambers, each of which contains a pair of lateral openings (ostia
Ostium primum
In the developing heart, the atria initially communicate with each other by an opening between the free edge of the septum primum and the AV cushions, known as the primary interatrial foramen or ostium primum , below the free margin of the septum.-Closing of ostium primum:This opening is closed by...

). The haemolymph continues to the aorta and is discharged through the front of the head. Accessory pumps carry haemolymph through the wing veins and along the legs and antennae before it flows back to the abdomen. This haemolymph circulates nutrients through the body and carries metabolic wastes to the malphighian tubes
Malpighian tubule system
The Malpighian tubule system is a type of excretory and osmoregulatory system found in some Uniramia , arachnids and tardigrades....

 to be excreted. Because it does not carry oxygen, grasshopper "blood" is green.

Respiration is performed using trachea
Invertebrate trachea
The invertebrate trachea refers to the open respiratory system composed of spiracles, tracheae, and tracheoles that terrestrial arthropods have to transport metabolic gases to and from tissues....

e, air-filled tubes, which open at the surfaces of the thorax and abdomen through pairs of spiracle
Spiracle
Spiracles are openings on the surface of some animals that usually lead to respiratory systems.-Vertebrates:The spiracle is a small hole behind each eye that opens to the mouth in some fishes. In the primitive jawless fish the first gill opening immediately behind the mouth is essentially similar...

s. The spiracle valves only open to allow oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange. The tracheoles, found at the end of the tracheal tubes, are insinuated between cells and carry oxygen throughout the body. (For more information on respiration, see Insect.)

As food


In certain countries, grasshoppers are eaten as a good source of protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

. In Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 for example, chapulines
Chapulines
Chapulines, plural for chapulín, are grasshoppers of the genus Sphenarium, that are commonly eaten in certain areas of Mexico. The term is specific to Mexico and derives from the Nahuatl language...

are regarded for their high content of protein, minerals and vitamins.
They are usually collected at dusk, using lamps or electric lighting, in sweep nets. Sometimes they are placed in water for 24 hours, after which they can be boiled or eaten raw, sun-dried, fried, flavoured with spices, such as garlic, onions, chile, drenched in lime, and used in soup or as a filling for various dishes. They are abundant in Mexican
Culture of Mexico
Mexico has changed rapidly during the 20th century. In many ways, contemporary life in its cities has become similar to that in neighboring United States and Europe. Most Mexican villagers follow the older way of life more than the city people do. More than 45% of the people of Mexico live in...

 food and street markets, particularly in the central regions.

They are served on skewers in some Chinese food markets, like the Donghuamen Night Market
Donghuamen Night Market
Donghuamen Night Market is a night market located in the northern end of Wangfujing in Beijing, China. One can find a row of unusual food stalls. An array of Chinese food delicacies are on display with people bustling around to experience some new tastes. Items such as sheep's particular parts,...

.

Raw grasshoppers should be eaten with caution, as they may contain tapeworms
Cestoda
This article describes the flatworm. For the medical condition, see Tapeworm infection.Cestoda is the name given to a class of parasitic flatworms, commonly called tapeworms, of the phylum Platyhelminthes. Its members live in the digestive tract of vertebrates as adults, and often in the bodies...

.

In some countries in Africa, grasshoppers are an important food source, as are other insects, adding proteins and fats to the daily diet, especially in times of food crisis. They are often used in soup. The "grasshoppers" eaten in Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

 and neighbouring areas are called nsenene
Nsenene
Nsenene is the Luganda name for a long-horned grasshopper that is a central Ugandan delicacy as well as an important source of income. The insect is also eaten in neighbouring areas of Kenya and Tanzania. Traditionally in Uganda, nsenene were collected by children and women...

, but they are in fact bush crickets, also called katydids.

In some countries in the Middle East, grasshoppers are boiled in hot water with salt, left in the sun to dry then eaten as snacks.

Locusts


Locusts are several species of short-horned grasshoppers of the family Acrididae
Acrididae
The Acrididae are the predominant family of grasshoppers, comprising some 10,000 of the 11,000 species of the entire suborder Caelifera. The Acrididae are best known because all locusts are of the Acrididae. The subfamily Oedipodinae is sometimes classified as a distinct family Oedipodidae in the...

 that sometimes form very large groups (swarms); these can be highly destructive and migrate in a more or less coordinated way. Thus, these grasshoppers have solitary and gregarious (swarm) phases. Locust swarms can cause massive damage to crops
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

. Important locust species include Schistocerca gregaria and Locusta migratoria in Africa and the Middle East, and Schistocerca piceifrons in tropical Mexico and Central America (Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica is a region and culture area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and...

). Other grasshoppers important as pests (which, unlike true locusts, do not change colour when they form swarms) include Melanoplus
Melanoplus
Melanoplus is a large genus of grasshoppers. They are the typical large grasshoppers in North America...

species (like M. bivittatus
Melanoplus bivittatus
The Two-striped Grasshopper is a species of grasshopper belonging to the genus Melanoplus. It is considered a pest species to the United States and Canada....

, M. femurrubrum
Melanoplus femurrubrum
The Red-legged Grasshopper is a species of grasshopper belonging to the genus Melanoplus. It is found in Mexico, United States and Canada.-Description:...

and M. differentialis) and Camnula pellucida in North America; the Romalea guttata (lubber grasshopper), Brachystola magna, and Sphenarium purpurascens in northern and central Mexico; species of Rhammatocerus in South America; and the Oedaleus senegalensis (Senegalese grasshopper) and the Zonocerus variegatus (variegated grasshopper) in Africa.

Camouflage


The coloring of different species of grasshopper are often dependent on environment. Many species are adapted to green fields and forests, and blend in well there to avoid predators. Others have adapted to drier, sandy environments and blend in well with the colors of dry dirt and sand.

In popular culture

  • Aesop
    Aesop
    Aesop was a Greek writer credited with a number of popular fables. Older spellings of his name have included Esop and Isope. Although his existence remains uncertain and no writings by him survive, numerous tales credited to him were gathered across the centuries and in many languages in a...

     (620–560 BC), a slave and story-teller who lived in Ancient Greece, told a tale called The Ant and the Grasshopper
    The Ant and the Grasshopper
    The Ant and the Grasshopper, also known as The Grasshopper and the Ant , is one of Aesop's Fables, providing an ambivalent moral lesson about hard work and foresight. In the Perry Index it is number 373...

    . In this tale, the ant worked hard preparing his shelter and stores of food all summer, while the grasshopper played. When winter came, the ant was prepared, but the grasshopper has no shelter or food. He begs to enter the ant's house, but the ant refuses and the grasshopper starves.

  • As a result of the popularity of Aesop's fable in Western culture, various other human weaknesses besides improvidence began to be identified with the grasshopper's behaviour. So an unfaithful woman (hopping from man to man) became known as 'a grasshopper'. Portrayal of such women occurs for example in Poprygunya, a short story written in 1892 by Anton Chekhov
    Anton Chekhov
    Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian physician, dramatist and author who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short stories in history. His career as a dramatist produced four classics and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics...

    , and in Jerry Paris
    Jerry Paris
    Jerry Paris was an American actor and director best known for playing Jerry Helper, the dentist and next door neighbor of Rob and Laura Petrie, on The Dick Van Dyke Show.-Life and career:...

    ' 1969 film "The Grasshopper".

  • Those who are unable to keep a single subject in focus but keep bringing in inappropriate associations (hopping from one thing to another) are said to have 'a grasshopper mind'.

  • Partly as a result of this, 'grasshopper' has lately come to refer to a person who has much to learn. Its use originated from the television show Kung Fu
    Kung Fu (TV series)
    Kung Fu is an American television series that starred David Carradine. It was created by Ed Spielman, directed and produced by Jerry Thorpe, and developed by Herman Miller, who was also a writer for, and co-producer of, the series...

    (1972–1975). Caine, the young student, portrayed by Radames Pera
    Radames Pera
    Radames Perá is an American actor who is best known for his role as the young Kwai Chang Caine in the 1972-1975 television series Kung Fu.-Biography:...

    , is receiving instruction from his Master Po (portrayed by Keye Luke
    Keye Luke
    Keye Luke was a Chinese-born American actor. He was the first Chinese-American contract player signed with RKO, Universal and, later, MGM and is generally acknowledged as the leading Asian-American actor of this era of American cinema.-Background:...

    ) who nicknames his student "Grasshopper" as a term of endearment.

  • The 1957 film Beginning of the End
    Beginning of the End
    Beginning of the End is a 1957 American science fiction film directed by Bert I. Gordon and starring Peter Graves and Peggie Castle. The film is about an agricultural scientist who has successfully grown gigantic vegetables using radiation...

    featured mutated giant grasshoppers attacking Chicago.

  • In the 1998 movie A Bug's Life
    A Bug's Life
    A Bug's Life is a 1998 American computer animated adventure comedy film produced by Pixar and released by Walt Disney Pictures in the United States on November 25, 1998. A Bug's Life was the second Disney·Pixar feature film after Toy Story, and the third American computer-animated film after Toy...

    , the heroes are the members of an ant colony, and the lead villain and his henchmen are grasshoppers. In an apparent homage to the Aesop fable
    Aesop's Fables
    Aesop's Fables or the Aesopica are a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and story-teller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BCE. The fables remain a popular choice for moral education of children today...

    , The Ant and the Grasshopper
    The Ant and the Grasshopper
    The Ant and the Grasshopper, also known as The Grasshopper and the Ant , is one of Aesop's Fables, providing an ambivalent moral lesson about hard work and foresight. In the Perry Index it is number 373...

    , the lead villain is eaten by a bird.

  • The Japanese superhero
    Superhero
    A superhero is a type of stock character, possessing "extraordinary or superhuman powers", dedicated to protecting the public. Since the debut of the prototypical superhero Superman in 1938, stories of superheroes — ranging from brief episodic adventures to continuing years-long sagas —...

     franchise "Kamen Rider
    Kamen Rider
    , is a weekly science fiction story created by Japanese manga artist Shotaro Ishinomori. It debuted as a tokusatsu television series on April 3, 1971 and ran until February 10, 1973, airing on the Mainichi Broadcasting System and NET TV . A manga adaptation was also featured in Shōnen Magazine...

    " originally had a grasshopper motif, with a grasshopper based helmet and costume. Latter motifs were either not or close to being a grasshopper, although most features of the original superhero remains such as the "compound eyes".

External links


  • Tree of Life Web Project
  • The Grasshopper suicide
  • American grasshopper on the UF
    University of Florida
    The University of Florida is an American public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university located on a campus in Gainesville, Florida. The university traces its historical origins to 1853, and has operated continuously on its present Gainesville campus since September 1906...

     / IFAS
    Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
    The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is a federal-state-county partnership dedicated to developing knowledge in agriculture, human and natural resources, and the life sciences, and enhancing and sustaining the quality of human life by making that information...

    Featured Creatures Web site
  • A grasshopper plague is at hand in U.S. | Newsdesk.org (March 30, 2010)
  • AcridAfrica