Golly, Grasshoppers are Great!

Grasshoppers are small but mighty insects. One second you see them and with one giant leap they’re gone! Since grasshoppers are so quick, it can be hard to tell which species you spotted. There are 139 grasshopper species in Canada and 62 in Ontario. Here are five fun facts about grasshoppers that you may not know:

1. They are excellent at camouflage.

Grasshoppers have evolved to blend into the environment as a form of protection. In the Credit River Watershed, the most common species is the Carolina grasshopper. Their dusty colour blends in with the ground they sit on, and you don’t usually notice them until they fly away. Their wings have a startling pattern of dark black/brown with a yellowish border. In flight they can be confused for mourning cloak butterflies.

Carolina grasshopper. Photo credit: (c) JanetandPhil on iNaturalist

2. They’re great musicians.

A grasshopper’s song is a sure sign of warm weather. Different grasshoppers make different sounds. Some make sounds by rubbing pegs on their hind legs together, some rattle their wings together while flying, some rub their wings together and others don’t make any noise at all. Take a stroll along the Credit River and you’ll definitely receive a free concert.

3. They don’t have ears.

Instead of ears, grasshoppers use an organ called a tympanum to hear. These organs are circular membranes found in the grasshopper’s abdomen, where the hind legs attach to the body. They can detect differences in intensity and rhythm, but not pitch. Their hearing has evolved to help them identify predators, prey and potential mates.

4. They could be in the Olympics.

Grasshoppers have three pairs of legs, all of which are used for walking. However, they have extremely strong hind legs that act like mini catapults. They can jump up to 20 times the length of their body… imagine humans being able to jump that far!

A grasshopper in mid-jump.

5. They’re older than you think.

Grasshoppers are a subgroup of insects that are closely related to crickets and katydids. They are among the most ancient living group of chewing herbivorous insects, dating back to the early Triassic period, around 250 million years ago – just before the first dinosaurs walked the earth!

Green-striped Grasshopper. Photo credit: Toronto Wildlife

Grasshoppers are important to the environment. Similar to many other animals, grasshopper poop fertilizes soil and helps plants grow. Grasshoppers are also a food source for many animals, as they are packed with protein. There are 1.4 billion insects per person on this planet, including the great grasshopper.

Do you have any grasshopper photos of your own? Share them with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

By Kimberley Laird, Associate, Marketing and Communications

*Feature photo credit: Emily Stacy, iNaturalist

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