Renowned for their jumping prowess, grasshoppers are a diverse species of insect.
Similar to the locust and cricket, the grasshopper is a species of insect in the orthoptera order, however it is non-migratory and tends to exist in isolation (ie, it does not swarm), meeting up generally only to mate.
Grasshoppers consist of a long abdomen (females are equipped with an ovipositor for laying eggs), short forelegs, powerful hind legs (responsible for its jumping prowess), two pairs of wings and a short antenna. Its nervous system is controlled by a series of ganglia, a collection of nerve cells located in each part of the body – the largest occurring in the head.
Information is fed to the ganglia via its antenna, sensilla (tiny exterior hairs) and cerci (paired appendages at its rear). Sound is detected by a pair of tympanal organs, a set of membranes stretched across a frame, and backed by an air sac and sensory neurons.
Food is digested in a series of three guts – the stomodaeum, mesentreron and proctodaeum – running from the fore of the abdomen to the rear respectively.
Food is broken down by a selection of secreted enzymes including amylase, protease, lipase and invertase. Reproduction occurs through a lengthy ovulation process (up to nine months), with eggs laid by females typically a few inches underground.
There are currently roughly 11,000 species of grasshopper recorded worldwide, and they tend to be found residing in tropical forests and grassland planes.