Now that Easter has passed, it is important to note that bunnies are not the only ones that like to hop! There is also the grasshopper! These insects have an ancient history, as the modern day grasshopper is believed to have evolved over the last 200 million years. Its history dates back to the Triassic period when reptiles first walked on the earth. Here are some more interesting facts about the grasshopper.
Many people know that the grasshopper can “hop,” but they do not realize that grasshoppers have the ability to fly. Their powerful jumping legs also make them good flyers. They often use their wings after propelling themselves into the air with their legs to escape from predators. In fact, a grasshopper’s legs are actually more like a catapult. They store energy in their hind legs and, when they are ready, they contract their large flexor muscle slowly at the knee joint. A special cuticle inside the knee functions like a spring. When the grasshopper relaxes its leg muscles, this cuticle releases energy, and the grasshopper’s body is catapulted into the air.
Ears to Hear
Unlike almost every other living thing, grasshoppers have ears on their abdomen. The first abdominal segment, located underneath their wings, contains an eardrum to allow the grasshopper to hear. However, grasshoppers do not have the best hearing. They are able to differentiate intensities and rhythms, but not pitch.
Locust versus Grasshopper
A locust is the same thing as a grasshopper. However, the word locust often has a negative connotation. When people think about locusts, they think of plagues and destruction of farm fields. There are some species we call grasshoppers and others that are named locusts, but they both come from the same order of Orthoptera.
Damage and Destruction
As interesting as this insect is, grasshoppers cause billions of dollars of damage to farm crops each year all over the globe. One or two grasshoppers here and there cannot do a lot of harm. However, a grasshopper can eat about half of its body weight in plants each day. When you have a large swarm of locusts eating half of their weight per day, a lot of destruction and damage can take place. In America alone, approximately $1.5 billion of damage can be attributed to grasshoppers each year.
A Food Source
Although grasshoppers are good at destroying food, they are also an important food source themselves. Many people consider grasshoppers to be delicious. They have been considered a food source for different populations for centuries. In Africa, Asia, and the Americas, locust and grasshoppers are often ingredients in the local diet. People eat them raw and also cook them in different ways.