The Bugs of Bernheim: Grasshoppers

By Horticulture Intern

Photo credit: Kansas State University
Photo credit: Kansas State University

The Orthoptera order of insects derives from the Greek words “ortho” meaning straight and “ptera” meaning wing. Grasshoppers, Locusts, Katydids, and Crickets are all included in this order. Caelifera, otherwise known as grasshopper, has at least 11,000 species within its suborder. This insect may be elusive to some as the male is heard chirping more often than it is seen, especially on summer nights.  The male grasshopper produces this sound by rubbing its forelegs against its abdomen, different from crickets, which rub their wings together. Unlike mammals, grasshoppers hear with their abdomen; this ability is made possible by the vibrating of a membrane called the tympana.

For the most part, grasshoppers live in grassy fields or open areas, though they can also live in woods and jungles. As an herbivore, grasshoppers mostly feast on grass and leaves. The two main types of grasshopper are long horned and short horned, indicating a difference in length of their antennae. The redlegged grasshopper, two-stripped grasshopper, and differential grasshopper are all species common in Kentucky. Grasshoppers have the ability to jump 20 times the length of their own body, though they also have the ability to fly. Adult grasshoppers grow to be about one to seven centimeters depending on the species, but the female grasshopper is larger than the male.

Bernheim is proud to be a healthy forest, which provides a home to many creatures, even the smallest ones – insects. The Bugs of Bernheim is a blog series that will celebrate our six and eight-legged friends. Join us each year on the third Saturday in September at Bernheim’s annual BugFest, where you can see a variety of bugs, dance the buggy boogie, and even sample some tasty insect treats.

Kate Love, Horticulture Intern 2016. Kate is a student at Western Kentucky University.

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