Grasshopper: Basic Facts and Natural Ways to Get Rid of them
Related to katydids and crickets, grasshoppers are medium to large-sized insects. Their Latin name is ‘Suborder Caelifera’. There are more than 10,000 species of grasshoppers. Every single grasshopper comes in different sizes. Their normal size is about 3 to 13 centimeters long. Grasshoppers are divided in two types—long horned grasshoppers(with long antennas) and short horned grasshoppers(with short antennas). A grasshopper’s body is segmented in three main parts—head, followed by thorax and the abdominal area. Its body is covered in an exoskeleton or a hard shell-like layer. Head has two antennas growing outside. It has five eyes and six legs in total. The hind legs function to aid it in jumping and hopping. That’s why these are comparatively bigger and contain large flexor muscles. Short front legs are used for walking or holding the food. Besides that, an adult grasshopper has a pair of wings.
Table of Contents
- What Do they Eat?
- Where Do they Live?
- How Do they Reproduce?
- 10 Intriguing and Fun Grasshoppers Facts
- Do Grasshoppers Bite Humans?
- What Harm Can Grasshoppers Do?
- How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers in your Territory?
What Do they Eat?
Short horned grasshoppers are herbivorous (who feed on plants only) insects. They use their chewing mouthparts to devour the plants and leaves. Plants that they love to feast on are—clover, wheat, barley, alfalfa, oats, rye and cotton. Contrary to that, a few (not all) species of long horned grasshoppers are carnivorous and they feed on different insects and dead animals.
Where Do they Live?
These little buggers can be found anywhere on the planet except Antarctica (it can’t bear that much cold). Their natural habitat includes all the dry and open places that promise plenty of food for them. These may include—grasslands, crops, meadows, tropical forests, mountains, rainforest and even deserts.
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How Do they Reproduce?
Grasshoppers prefer to live alone. A solitary grasshopper comes together to its female partner only at the time of mating or courtship. Some species of grasshoppers can actually sing. They use their sound to lure the females for copulation (or to impress their fellow grasshoppers). This alluring sound is produced by rubbing the wings against the hind legs. After copulation, the female lays eggs in fall and they hatch in spring season. As the eggs are hatched, wingless nymphs are born. Like other insects (crickets, praying mantis), grasshopper nymphs too have to molt their skin to turn into an adult grasshopper. The average lifespan of a grasshopper is about 1 to 3 years.
Note: Band-winged grasshoppers are known for producing a loud and crackling noise while they are flying.
10 Intriguing and Fun Grasshoppers Facts
- She-grasshoppers are bigger in size than males. They all have razor-sharp points at the end of their abdominal area. These points aid them in laying (hiding) their eggs underground.
- Grasshoppers come with five eyes. They can view in all directions, including back.
- They don’t have ears. They hear with their special auditory organs (the tiny holes located on the side of their abdomen). This special organ is called tympanal organ. Even their breathing depends on ten tiny holes (spiracles), covering the area of thorax and abdomen.
- They look tiny but they are big eaters. Research suggests that normal sized grasshoppers can ingest 16 times more than their own body weight.
- Grasshoppers have a very interesting defense mechanism. As the danger (other insects and ants) nears them or someone tries to pick them up, they spit brown liquid (venomous) known as ‘tobacco juice’, and fly away. Besides that, some grasshopper species are known to eat toxic plants to keep the predators away.
- Grasshoppers jump at great distances, using their hind legs. They are capable of jumping as far as 20 times more than their body’s length.
- Grasshoppers camouflage themselves for the protection against different predators like—mantids, rodents, beetles, birds, spiders and other reptiles. They come in the combination of grey, brown and yellow. Band winged grasshoppers are particularly known for their ability to blend in the natural environment.
- Flies are one of the biggest predators of grasshopper’s nymphs. They prefer to lay eggs near grasshopper’s eggs. As the flies’ eggs are hatched, the newly born flies devour grasshopper’s eggs. The second treacherous game that flies usually play with grasshoppers, is to lay their eggs right above the grasshopper’s body. As flies’ eggs are hatched, the newborn flies munch on the grasshopper.
- Grasshoppers do not live in the form of groups. But when it comes to migration for food, they tend to combine in the swarm of millions and billions to migrate.
- The history of grasshoppers goes back to the ages before dinosaurs. The fossils of the ancient grasshoppers show a significant evolvement in their structure. The primitive grasshoppers, about 300 million years ago, had different anatomy as compared to the modern day grasshoppers.
Do Grasshoppers Bite Humans?
A grasshopper would never jump or attack any human on its own. There are certain conditions that might force these harmless critters to show their bite force by pinching the sharp mandibles in human skin. Simply put, they would bite, if they feel threatened or if you capture them tightly. Even in that case, expect the grasshopper’s spit first, bite comes second to it. Some reports suggest, they might rub their powerful jumping legs in your skin. The series of sharp spikes on them might cause a wound. Their bite can cause an allergic reaction (as a result of saliva). Simply applying some antiseptic might help in both cases.
What Harm Can Grasshoppers Do?
Grasshoppers are field and garden pest insects. They are wild eaters with strong jaws and ingest almost every plant with itheir chewing mouthparts. The most favorite edibles of a grasshopper include—onions, lettuce, beans, corn and carrots. Furthermore, they may damage plants, stems, crops, seeds, annual flowers and fruits hanging from the trees. Late spring to summer is the time when they are most likely to be around in your yard or fields.
How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers in your Territory?
Grasshoppers are the most damaging pest insects. Getting rid of them is not that easy. Read on to find the most effective and reliable techniques to kill grasshoppers.
6 Natural Ways to Kill Grasshoppers
Domesticated poultry (guinea hens and chicken) are considered the best predators against grasshoppers. The only side effect of using them for grasshopper control, is the damage they may cause to your garden. Besides chicken, spiders, wild birds and blister beetles too are good at chasing and devouring these buggers.
2. Spicy Spray
Sprinkling your plants with unique organic pesticide like hot pepper wax insect repellent or garlic spray, bitters plant’s taste, making it unbearable for hoppers to ingest it.
3. Find and Squish them
Take a pail filled with soapy water. If you find them sitting on the plants or stems, use a stick to drop them off into the soapy water. They would not be able to survive it. The other way is to simply crush them under your feet.
For a quick solution to the problem, using pesticides is another highly recommended option. ‘Safer brand insect killing soap’ is a reliable pesticide that works effectively on grasshoppers and other insects like mites, earwigs and aphids. Bonide Systematic Insect Control is yet another cost-effective and long lasting insect repellent.
5. Natural Grasshopper Repellent
There are several plants that are known to be the natural insect repellents (calendula or cilantro). Keep the insects at bay by planting them around your yard or garden.
6. A Tall Grass Trap
Set a patch of long grass as grasshopper trap crop in the corner of your garden. Hopefully, grasshoppers’ love for long grass would keep them busy and away from your dear plants and vegetation.
Grasshoppers are harmless to humans. In the places like Bangkok and Thailand, crispy fried grasshoppers have become the most loved edible item. So, humans can be a threat to their population, and not they to ours. Hoppers can be a real threat, only when they intrude in our domain. But that too should not be a big deal now. Since you have our best pest control tips mentioned above.