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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Grasshopper Joints and Hangouts

There are a lot of grasshoppers (sometimes defined as short-horned grasshoppers, helpful distinction for those who call tree crickets and katydids grasshoppers) around now in various sizes and colors.  All of these are greybirds, Schistocerca nitens, cousin to infamous grasshoppers of destruction. 

Grasshoppers, long and short horned, are classified in the order Orthoptera which means straight wing.

The wing covers are what you see when the creature is at rest; underneath the membranous flying wings are folded lengthwise accordion-like.  The young grasshopper hatches resembling the adult except having no wings.

As it grows and molts the wing buds appear about midway through the insect's development and the wings develop outside of the insect's body.  This mode of development in the insect world is called hemimetabolous, incomplete or gradual metamorphosis.

Insects are arthropods, which means jointed foot.  It's obvious the joints are not limited to the feet, especially in the highly developed jumping legs of these grasshoppers.

Although these grasshoppers are strong fliers and great jumpers they spend most of their time, as far as I've been able to observe, hanging out in the plants eating or just sitting there.  Sometimes they squirrel around in the plants on their own initiative, but to get them to jump or fly one must aggressively annoy them. 

Maybe I simply have very nice plants that are pleasing and comforting to grasshoppers. 

In my garden grasshoppers young and old are commonly found on the grasses such as pennisetum, the bronze fennel, aromatic mint family plants like salvias and lavendar, the lemon verbena aloysia triphylla, and occasionally on the California grape vitis californica.


Country Mouse said...

I tried looking up what I call the "crickety things" that I see in our area, but gave up. It's too hard to find picture-based info - really what I want is a single page that says "All the crickety things Country Mouse sees, explained." I mean - some are tiny and black, and some are huge and green, others are brownish but big - Your post didn't answer my questions but it did give me very interesting info on grasshoppers I didn't even think to ask about!

vanessa cardui said...

If you have photos of your crickety things, I'll take a shot at IDing them. Send to me at

And yes, it sure would be great to have a web page like you describe.