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These all-singing, all-dancing creatures truly are the gymnasts of the insect world, being able to leap distances of up to 20 times the length of their own body.

Grasshopper sat on broad leaf

Grasshoppers have powerful, enlarged hind legs, which they use to catapult themselves out of harm's way if they feel threatened.

There are thought to be around 30 different species of grasshopper currently breeding in the UK, although they are often confused with crickets and locusts. Grasshoppers can be distinguished mainly by their short antennae and the fact that they tend to be solitary creatures, only coming together to mate.

They live in fields, long grasses and anywhere there is a good source of food. They don't build nests or any form of home and are fairly nomadic, sometimes going on long journeys to find food.

Grasshoppers' main predators are birds, beetles, mice, snakes and spiders, and they are also prone to attack from a type of parasitic fly. These flies lay their eggs near, or even on top of, grasshoppers and when they hatch the newborn flies eat the grasshoppers and any eggs they may have.

Perhaps one of the most musical insects around, the grasshopper can make an extraordinarily loud chirping sound, known as ‘stridulating'. They make this sound by rubbing a row of pegs that they have on their back legs against their forewings. Stridulating is used mainly by males in courtship displays to attract a mate, or to compete with rivals.

When the female has mated she will lay eggs in dry soil, and what are called ‘nymphs' will emerge during spring when the weather starts to get warmer. From there the grasshopper will simply grow into an adult, shedding its layers until it reaches full size in August.

Grasshopper facts

Appearance: Usually green, brown or grey in colour, although some are brightly coloured to warn off predators.

Size: They vary in length depending on their species, but most in the UK measure 20–30mm.

Weight: 300mg

Lifespan: Around one year

Diet: They feed on grass, leaves, corn and other cereal crops

Family: Orthoptera

Family nature guide 2019

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Last Edited: 16 November 2020

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