In this article, we are going to be covering all on what grasshoppers eat, classification, habitat, predators and how they communicate.
Grasshoppers are insects of the suborder Caelifera in the order of Orthoptera. To distinguish them from katydids or bush crickets, they are sometimes referred to as short-horned grasshoppers.
Grasshopper is an amazing insect that can leap up to 20 times its body length. If you and I could do that, we could jump over 40 yards! Grasshoppers can both fly and jump reaching up to a speed of 8 miles per hour.
Characteristics of grasshoppers
Grasshoppers are medium to large insects. Adult height is 1 to 7 inches, depending on the type. Like their ‘katydids’ and ‘crickets’ relatives, they have chewing mouth, two pairs of wings, one small and strong, one wide and flexible, and long hind legs for jumping. They are different from these groups in that they have short horns that do not reach very far from their bodies.
Grasshoppers often have large eyes, and they have mixed colors in their natural habitat, usually a combination of brown, gray, or green. Some males have bright colors on their wings that they use to attract females. A few species eat poisonous plants, and they store toxins in their bodies for protection. They are brightly colored to warn predators that they do not taste good.
Female grashoppers are larger than males and have sharp points at the ends of their abdomen that help them lay their eggs underground. Male grassshoppers sometimes have special structures on their wings that they rub on their hind legs or rub together to make sounds.
Grasshoppers can be found almost anywhere in the world, except in cold climates near the North and South poles near coder regions.
As the name suggests, grasshoppers prefer grasslands and plateaus. The female grasshoppers lay their eggs in the undisturbed soil of the garden and the meadows. The eggs hatch there in winter and hatch in late spring. If there is enough food in the area, they can stay there all summer. When food is scarce, Grashoppers can become large insects by migrating to other areas, such as farms and gardens, and feeding on vegetables, fruits, flowers, trees, and grass.
Types of Grashoppers
There are two groups of locusts:
- Short- horned grasshopers
- Long- horned grashoppers
Grasshoppers are classified according to the length of their antennae, also called horns. The short-horned grasshoppers are often referred to as ‘locusts’.
Grasshoppers are very active during the day, but they also feed at night. They have no nests or places and some species travel long distances to find fresh food. Many species live alone and come together to mate, but migratory species sometimes meet in large groups of millions.
When the grasshopper is taken, they ‘spit’ a brown liquid known as ‘tobacco juice’. Some scientists believe that the liquid can protect the locusts from being attacked by insects such as ants and other predators – they ‘spit’ the liquid into them and fly off quickly. Grasshoppers also try to escape from their enemies hiding in the grass or between leaves.
The biggest enemies of the grasshoppers are the various species of flies that lay in their eggs. After the fly’s eggs hatch, newborn flies eat the grasshopper’s eggs. Some flies will lay their eggs in the body of a grasshopper, or a grasshoppers swarm. Newborn flies eat grasshoppers and also birds as well.
How do they communicate with each other?
Grasshoppers mainly use sound and visual contact, or as animals, smell and touch are important during mating season. In some species the males flap their wings or rub their wings on their legs to make sounds that attract females.
Grasshopper digestive system
Grasshoppers have chewing mouth that has small modifications depending on the type of food. This buccal contains mandibular, maxillary and lip structures, which are involved in feeding grasshoppers. Most locusts are phytophagous, supporting their diet mainly on plants, which can sometimes cause damage to plants.
In the following sections, we will learn about two species of grasshoppers and their diet. We are talking about the green grasshopper and the brown grasshopper, also known as the rufous grasshoppers.
When we talk about grasshoppers, we should also talk about their anatomy. Specifically, their digestive system. When a grasshoppert puts food in its mouth, the food is sent to the esophagus which then sends it to the crop, this organ is used to store food and is different from the stomach.
What Do Baby grasshoppers Eat?
Grasshoppers have three stages of life – an egg, nymph, and an adult. Mating usually involves courtship rituals between males and females, but once released, the female will bury her eggs deep in any leaf litter or soil.
The females attach the eggs to a live gooey organic material that hardens into an egg pod. The pods can have from 15 to 150 eggs depending on the type, and the average female can lay up to 25 pods.
Eggs are usually laid in the middle of summer and hatched the following spring or early summer when food is plentiful. The nymphs emerge from the eggs and begin to eat.
Nymphs feed on plant leaves and shoots, grass, and clover. They go through five different growth stages, and spend their layers each time in a process called molting. Each instar looks almost identical to the previous one, just bigger and has continuous wing development.
It takes approximately 5-6 weeks for the nymph to develop into an adult, and adults usually live for about two months after maturation.
Nymphs are weaker than adults, and should be stabilized with soft foods, which are easily crushed in their early stages of growth. As they grow and mature, nymphs are gradually able to consume a wide range of plants.
Nymphs get all the moisture they need from the plants they eat, and they usually do not need to drink water to stay hydrated.
What Do Adult grasshoppers Eat?
Adult grasshopper will be looking for their favorite crop, their most popular options are cotton, clover, oats, wheat, corn, alfalfa, rye and barley.
Grasshoppers will eat both stems and leaves, and they are also known to eat vegetables. In Florida, the Lubber Grasshopper is notorious for vandalizing gardens and plants alike, especially many citrus trees.
Frequently asked questions about what grasshoppers eat
Do grasshoppers drink water?
No, they do not drink water like we do. Naturally, like other insects that eat vegetables, grasshoppers get the water they need from the plants they eat. For example, grass is 85% water, which makes it an excellent meal for grasshoppers to eat and hydrate their bodies.
As they are vegetarians, they always have enough water. However, as expected, they will get more water if they eat grass or water leaves that contain a lot of water.
What go grasshoppers like to eat
- Grasshoppers favorite foods are clover, wheat, cotton, rye, corn, oats, barley and alfalfa.
- They also like to eat grass, trees, flowers, leaves, bark of other plants, weeds and seeds.
- Some grasshoppers sometimes eat poisonous vegetation and store the poison in order to keep predators away.
What do grasshoppers eat in the wild
- Grashoppers do not eat in the wild and can eat anything green especially grass, new shoots, leaves and flowers.
- When the vegetation is gone, they have no problem eating tree bark, seeds, mosses, fungi, rotting meat, animal waste, spider silk and even small dead insects such as spiders, flies and mosquitoes.
What do grasshoppers eat in captivity
- In captivity, grasshoppers fed mainly on fresh grass.
- They eat almost all kinds of plants in captivity, such as grass, vegetables, and leaves.
- However, canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) and fresh grass if found is considered the best food for them.
- They are also fed fresh corn and wheat, alfalfa, barley leaves, lettuce and other vegetable crops.
What do grasshoppers eat in the desert?
- Most grasshoppers found in the desert are omnivores, for example, grasshoppers (Brachystola magna), which not only eats a variety of plants but also other insects such as flies, spiders and mosquitoes.
- Some desert grasshoppers feed exclusively on certain plants, such as the creosote bush (Bootettix argentatus), found in North and Central America exclusively for creosote bush.
What kind of plants do grasshoppers eat
- Grasshoppers eat most of the grasses of the grass family (Poaceae or Gramineae), such as wheat, rice, maize, alfalfa, barley, oat, etc.
- They also like to eat clover, flowers and plant leaves.
- When green leafy vegetables are not available in large quantities, then they eat weeds, algae, tree bark, seeds and shrubs.
- Some grasshoppers eat poisonous plants and store toxins inside their bodies to scare off predators.
What do green grasshoppers eat
- The Green Grasshopper (Omocestus viridulus) likes to feed on a variety of grasses.
- Their diet includes Agrostis, Anthoxanthum, Dactylis, Holcus and Lolium.
- Like other grasshoppers, green grasshopper feed on clover, wheat, corn, alfalfa, barley, and oats.
- Green grasshoppers have been observed eating mosquitoes.
Do grasshoppers eat flowers
- Yes, grasshoppers eat the flowers of many plants.
- Some grasshoppers get their energy from the sweet nectar of different types of flowers.
Do grasshoppers Eat Grass
- Yes, grass is a grasshopper’s favorite food and they eat a variety of plants in the grass family.
- They like wheat, maize, rice, barley, oats, alfalfa, rye and many more.
Do grasshoppers Eat insects Insects?
- Some species of grasshoppers occasionally eat other insects such as small spiders, flies, mosquitoes, etc.
Do grasshoppers Eat Flies
- Some species of grasshoppers occasionally eat dead flies and other small insects to get more protein.
- However, grasshoppers and eat a lot of plants.
Do grasshoppers Eat Crickets
- Yes, grasshopper was seen eating cricket, however, grasshoppers themselves are often the victims of cricket attacks, as the grasshopper’s eggs are part of the cricket diet.
Do grasshoppers Eat Mosquitoes?
- Yes, some species of grasshoppers feed on mosquitoes.
- Green grasshopper (Omocestus viridulus) has been shown to eat mosquitoes.
Do grasshoppers Eat Each Other
- Yes, some species of grasshoppers eat each other in case of food scarcity or starvation.
- However, grasshoppers are vegetarians and them eating each other is very rare.
- Some grasshoppers also eat their old skins or of each other when they are shedding their old skin.