What Do Grasshoppers Eat
Ever wonder what do grasshoppers eat and how do they manage to destroy incredible amounts of crops and fields so quickly?
Found on almost every continent of the world except the poles, grasshoppers are a group of small or medium sized insects that have extremely voracious appetites. A typical grasshopper can eat more than 16 times that of its own body weight and can both jump and fly, making it easy for them to travel. They have powerful chewing mouthparts and climbing limbs as well. They are perfectly designed to eat.
The Grasshopper's Habitat
The particular diet of a grasshopper varies based on the region where they are living. Grasshoppers can be found in almost all region types including:
The Grasshopper's Diet - What Do Grasshoppers Eat?
A grasshopper's typical diet consists of vegetation as they are mostly herbivores. This includes:
Crops grown to support human population are often targeted by them.
How A Grasshopper Eats
A grasshopper uses its legs to climb down a plant and hangs head down to eat. Their powerful jaws quickly cut through plant material in a 1/8 of an inch swath until the entire width of the plant is gone.
Grasshoppers can work quickly and methodically when eating, leaving nothing behind. In certain situations where grasshoppers may become overcrowded or if the habitat quality has become too low, they have been known to eat the bodies of other alive or dead insects, including each other.
The amazing eating ability of this small insect is seen during swarms. Grasshoppers usually stay in what is known as a solitary phase where they eat and travel alone, but sometimes if the conditions arise, they can go through a phase change. After this change they are known as locusts.
Habitat and climate conditions may cause a high grasshopper birth rate, and when this overcrowding meets a limited food supply, the grasshoppers become agitated and join together in swarms.
Swarms of locusts have been recorded by humans for centuries, there are even passages relating to them in the bible. A locust swarm may be millions or even billions of grasshoppers strong. Once the swarm has gone airborne in search of new feeding grounds, they have become a plague and there is nothing that can stop it.
A swarm can be miles long and across and have been recorded to darken the skies. In a 24 hour period, they can move over several hundred miles and will eat everything they see. They can destroy an entire crop field in just minutes. They always fly with the wind currents, allowing them to travel very fast and can even follow wind currents over large bodies of water.
A plague of locusts can be responsible for countless human deaths by destroying the crops that we rely on. This is especially true for countries that still rely on subsistence farming techniques.
Luckily, locust plagues do not happen very often, as humans have spent a great deal of time and effort to learn about ways to prevent swarming. Created in 1945 to research what grasshoppers eat and test methods of preventing locust plagues, the Anti-Locust Research Centre performs all sorts of operations to reduce the risk. They run programs to limit grasshopper breeding and distribute chemical poisons. One of their best weapon is currently in testing - a fungal disease that only attacks grasshoppers.