Key Facts about the Grasshopper Habitat
Grasshopper habitat and diet are details that offer interesting insights into these herbivorous insects. These insects belong to the order Orthoptera in the suborder Caelifera and are differentiated from katydids and crickets by being called short-horned grasshoppers. There are nearly 18,000 types of grasshoppers. The type of grasshoppers that are able to change color and are usually found in densely populated groups are called locusts. Grasshoppers can hop, fly and jump and they are said to be able to leap 20 times their own length and fly at speeds of 8 miles and hour.
Grasshoppers are spread all over the world except in the very cold polar regions and they thrive in warm weather conditions. Grasshoppers are medium to large in size and can vary in length from one to seven centimeters. Their body consists of chewing mouth parts, two sets of wings - with one being tough and narrow and the other being more flexible, and also the distinctive long back legs which facilitate jumping. Grasshoppers also have short antennae. One of the grasshopper’s major tricks for survival and proliferation is its ability to camouflage itself into its surroundings. They are brown, green or grey or a combination of these colors and this really blends into most of the typical foliage found in grasshopper habitat. There a few species of grasshoppers where the male has brightly colored wings to entice the females. The male grasshoppers are the ones that rub their legs and make the sounds that the species is known for. Females are typically larger than the male grasshoppers.
These creatures are found in a wide variety of terrain and landscape and so grasshopper habitat is rather a broad definition. They tend to live wherever they can find food and so fields and meadows are popular choices. They are amazingly adaptable and so have made themselves at home in mountains, deserts and forests. They are small creatures but are said to eat as much as 16 times their own weight and so food is an important part of what defines grasshopper habitat. Unfortunately for farmers this has sometimes meant that grasshoppers have occupied land where cereal crops have been grown and pest control has been a real challenge. Grasshoppers are found to be active at daytime although they also feed during the night. One of the reasons they are hard to eliminate when they infest farms is that they do not build nests and they are no clear territorial boundaries. They stay in any landscape as long as food is possible and move on when they need to.
Grasshoppers’ natural enemies are beetles, mice, snakes, birds and spiders. Flies are also predators of grasshoppers because flies lay their eggs close to grasshopper eggs and when the fly eggs hatch the baby flies eat the grasshopper eggs. The grasshopper has some natural defense mechanisms to survive the threats that lurk in the grasshopper habitat. Other than the ability to blend into the surrounding area, grasshoppers also spit a liquid when they are feeling threatened which allows them to distract the predator and jump to safety. Some species of grasshoppers eat toxic plants and retain the toxins in their body to defend themselves.
Scientists these days are working on ways to use a technique called grasshopper habitat manipulation to control grasshopper infestations. By changing the availability of food and controlling the predators in the environment it is believed that grasshopper populations can be managed if they get out of control. While these strategies are yet to be tested, they hold the possibility of controlling grasshopper over-population without resorting to chemicals which may permanently end up destroying grasshopper habitat.