This Grasshopper Is For You
I went for a walk to enjoy a day that was not too hot. The end of my walks is coming for this year. I am physically able but at my age I choose not to chance a slip and fall on icy surfaces. I try to be careful.
So anyway I was enjoying the sights and sounds of this beautiful day. It was warm but not too warm. The birds were singing and the insects were annoying.
I had been watching the movements of a lot of grasshoppers. If I rustled the weeds a bit dozens of grasshoppers hopped to a safer spot. Dozens more flew to a safer spot.
Then I spotted this little guy. He (or maybe it was a she?) just stopped munching on this plant. The grasshopper watched carefully as I took several pictures.
When I was a little girl we used to chase grasshoppers and try to catch them. They are probably the hardest insects to capture. They move so quickly. But we usually managed to have a few in the jar or box. We would put plenty of grass in with them We were going to keep them as pets.
The following morning they were always gone. It was a big mystery. I have a feeling that my parents acted as freedom fighters and set them free.
There are more than 20,000 species of grasshoppers in the world. They are found all over the world.
In the nymph stage a grasshopper eats about twice its weight in food each day. If you weigh 100 pounds you would have to eat 200 pounds of food each day to match that.
The legs of a grasshopper are wondrous things. They are the means of transportation. They are used for communication. They are used to hold onto food.
Locusts are grasshoppers. They gather in groups of millions and can completely decimate a crop in a few days.
A grasshopper's ears are located on each side of the first abdominal segment up under the wings. They have a simple eardrum to be able to hear the songs of other grasshoppers.
Most grasshoppers live in or very near grassy areas but there are even grasshoppers found in desert areas.
A grasshopper's legs are so strong that it can jump 20 times the length of its body. A six foot tall man would be able to jump one hundred twenty feet if his legs were equally strong.
Grasshopper mandibles come in pairs that are situated so that they chew from side to side. Those mandibles are so tough that they are not damaged even if the grasshopper is eaten by a burrowing owl. If the owl ate 50 grasshoppers the only thing remaining from the grasshoppers would be a few legs, 100 mandibles, and a few assorted mouth parts.
Grasshoppers will eat almost any vegetation. They have a special fondness for dandelions.
Flies feed on grasshoppers. They are also eaten by coyotes, reptiles, rodents, beetles, spider, mantids, skunks, and birds. Also toads, badgers, gophers, and bobcats.
Grasshoppers are considered a valuable food source in much of the world. After they are captured they are soaked in water for a day. Then they can be eaten raw, deep fried, and flavored with various spices. For desert you can even dip them in chocolate. They provide a high amount of protein. A word of caution... grasshoppers often have parasites like tapeworms so eating them raw is not always a good idea.
A brown liquid that is spit by grasshoppers is called "tobacco juice" by humans. Many believe it is a defensive mechanism. Perhaps it tastes so bad that animals wanting to eat them will leave them alone.
Most grasshoppers make noise by rubbing their back legs together. They sing to attract females (only the males do this) and to warn off other males. Others make a clicking noise using their wings.
Fossil records show that primitive grasshoppers existed more than 300 million years ago.
A grasshopper's hind legs work like mini-catapults. Large flexor muscles contract slowly and bend the legs at the knee joint. A special piece of cuticle within the knee works like a spring as it stores potential energy. Then the grasshopper releases the flexor muscles and springs or catapults into the air.
Grasshoppers clean themselves by running appendages through their mouths.
They use their legs to flick dung away from their bodies.
Do you now know everything you always wanted to know about grasshoppers but were afraid to ask? I do.
The answer to What Am I is: I am a lady bug.