Grasshoppers, Family Acrididae

Habits and Traits of Grasshoppers

Grasshopper.
Most grasshoppers belong to the family Acrididae. Getty Images/E+/ ithinksky

Most grasshoppers we find in our gardens, along roadsides, and on meadow walks belong to the family Acrididae. The group is subdivided into several subfamilies, and includes slant-faced grasshoppers, stridulating grasshoppers, band-winged grasshoppers, and some of the better known locusts.

Description:

If you find a grasshopper in your lawn or garden, it's likely to be a member of the family Acrididae.

Most species are medium to large in size, but members of this huge family vary greatly, ranging from about 1-8 cm in length. Many are gray or brown in color, and are camouflaged well among the plants where they live.

In the Acrididae, the auditory organs are located on the sides of the first abdominal segments, and are covered by the wings (when present). Their antennae are quite short, typically extending less than half the grasshopper's body length. The pronotum covers just the thorax, never extending beyond the base of the wings. The tarsi have three segments.

Classification:

Kingdom – Animalia
Phylum – Arthropoda
Class – Insecta
Order – Orthoptera
Family - Acrididae

Diet:

These grasshoppers feed on plant foliage, with a particular fondness for grasses and spurges. When grasshoppers populations increase to the point of crowding, swarms of locusts can completely defoliate grasslands and agricultural crops over large areas.

Life Cycle:

Grasshoppers, like all members of the order Orthoptera, undergo simple or incomplete metamorphosis with three life stages: egg, nymph, and adult. In most species, the eggs are laid in the soil, and this is the overwintering stage.

Interesting Behaviors:

Many male grasshoppers in the family Acrididae use courtship calls to attract mates.

Of those that do, most use a form of stridulation in which they rub special pegs on the inside of the hind leg against a thickened edge of the wing. The band-winged grasshoppers snap their wings while in flight, making an audible crackle. In some species, the male may continue to guard the female after mating. He will ride around on her back for a day or more to discourage her from copulating with other partners.

Range and Distribution:

Most Acridid grasshoppers inhabit grasslands, although some live in forests or even aquatic vegetation. Over 8,000 species have been described worldwide, with more than 600 species living in North America.

 

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Hadley, Debbie. "Grasshoppers, Family Acrididae." ThoughtCo, Nov. 21, 2016, thoughtco.com/grasshoppers-family-acrididae-1968342. Hadley, Debbie. (2016, November 21). Grasshoppers, Family Acrididae. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/grasshoppers-family-acrididae-1968342 Hadley, Debbie. "Grasshoppers, Family Acrididae." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/grasshoppers-family-acrididae-1968342 (accessed May 24, 2018).