We have some hoppers around here. Some are big, some are small, some are green, others brown but they all hop! At first everything my daughter saw hop was a grasshopper or a cricket but she started to notice differences and ask questions. Sometime mid summer we got the book Bug Zoo and read up on the care and feeding of grasshoppers, crickets and the one bug missing from our identifications, katydids.
They all belong to the order Orthoptera, which means ‘straight wings’ but grasshoppers are in the suborder Caelifera while katydids and crickets are in the suborder Ensifrea. Since I am not an entomologist that does not mean much to me beyond the fact that crickets and katydids have more in common with each other than they do with grasshoppers.
One obvious thing that crickets and katydids have in common is the length of their antennae. This is also the biggest and best clue to distinguish them from grasshoppers. Grasshoppers have very short antennae while katydids and crickets have much longer antennae. After that it is a matter of identifying the crickets and katydids that live in your area. We have noticed that most crickets around here are brown to black and they also don’t have noticeable wings like the green katydids we see.
Here are a few other things we have learned about our hoppers:
Facts about grasshoppers:
- There are over 8,000 species
- They are also known as short-horned grasshoppers
- Most eat a variety of plants
Facts about katydids:
- There are over 6,400 species about 255 of which live in North America
- They are also known as long-horned grasshoppers or bush crickets
- Many eat a variety of plant material but others are predatory eating insects, snails and small invertebrates.
Facts about crickets:
- There are over 900 species
- Only the males chirp. Their chirping rate depends on the temperature and the species.
- Many people belive they create their sound by rubbing their legs together but it is their wings they rub together to make their chirp.
- They are omnivores eating a variety of plant matter and even other dead or dying crickets.
And since Eren is lovin’ kids looking at bugs in containers here is one of my little bug hunter with some of the bigger grasshoppers we find hopping and flying around our yard. It is a continual catch and release program around here.
Do you have any hoppers in your neck of the woods?
We would love to hear about them and see pictures in the flickr pool or a link to your blog post in the comments.