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Locusts, Grasshoppers and Crickets

The Grasshopper is a medium to large sized insect and the grasshopper is found (close to grass) all over the world. Grasshoppers are best known for their ability to jump incredible heights and distances., Most grasshopper individuals grow to about 2 inches long although larger grasshoppers are found on a fairly regular basis that grow to more than 5 inches in length. The grasshopper has wings meaning it can migrate over long distances when the weather gets too cold. There are 11,000 thousand known species of grasshopper on Earth, that live in grassy areas such as fields and meadows and forest and woodland. Like all insects, all species of grasshopper have a three-part body that is made up of the grasshopper’s head, it’s thorax and the abdomen. Grasshoppers also have six legs, two pairs of wings, and two antennae. The antennae of the grasshopper are known to be remarkably long and can often be longer than the grasshopper’s body, although the grasshopper’s antennae and the grasshopper’s body are normally about the same size. Grasshoppers use their long antennae in order to make sense of their surroundings. Grasshoppers have six jointed legs that are incredibly powerful for such a small creature, as grasshoppers are able to jump extraordinary distances. The two back legs of the grasshopper are long and powerful and are just for jumping, where the four front legs of the grasshopper are primarily used to hold onto prey and to help it to walk. Despite their large size, grasshoppers are herbivores animals and have a diet that consists solely of plant matter. Grasshoppers eat grasses, weeds, leaves, shrubs, bark and numerous other species of plants that surround them. The grasshopper is also a stable food source for many predators around the world including reptiles, insects, small mammals and birds. It is common for humans to eat grasshoppers in places like Asia and Africa where the bigger species of grasshopper are found, and there is a less readily available alternative protein source. The female grasshopper lays an egg pod that contains a couple of dozen grasshopper eggs in the late autumn to early winter depending on the area. The female grasshopper inserts her egg pod into the soil so that it is a couple of inches underground. The grasshopper eggs can take up to 9 months to hatch as they wait until the weather has warmed before breaking into the outside world. When the first baby grasshopper (known as a nymph) hatches out of it’s egg, it tunnels through the soil and up to the surface, and the remaining grasshopper nymph follow. As they get older, the grasshoppers will increase in size until they are adults. The grasshopper only remains in this stage (young and adult) for a few months before it dies meaning that most grasshopper individuals spend the majority of their lives inside an egg.

Locusts, Grasshoppers and Crickets are insects that belong to the order Orthoptera. There are over 900 species of crickets that are divided in couple of groups, based on their morphology and type of habitat. Crickets can be found throughout the world. They can survive in various habitats, including forests, meadows, fields, rocky areas and caves. Some of them live under the ground. Crickets are best known by the song they produce. They are symbol of good luck. People of China were holding crickets as pets in the past. Most species of crickets are numerous in the wild. Some species of crickets are facing uncertain future due to habitat loss (crickets cannot fly and they often disappear along with their habitats). Because of that, several species of crickets are listed as endangered. Interesting Cricket Facts: Size of crickets depends on the species. They are usually 1 to 2 inches long. Crickets can be black, red, brown or green in colour. Most species of crickets have flattened body and two pairs of membranous wings. Crickets have one pair of one inch long antennas, called feelers. Antennas can detect movement of the prey and facilitate finding of food. Crickets have excellent eyesight. Their eyes (known as compound eyes) consist of large number of lenses which ensure visualisation of different pictures at the same time. Only male crickets produce song. They have comb-like structures (toothed areas) on their wings which produce chirping sound when male rubs its wings. Chirps are mostly used to attract females and during the mating ritual. Other than that, males can produce specific type of chirps as a sign of aggression toward other males. Intensity of chirps depends on the temperature. Outer temperature (in Fahrenheit degrees) can be determined by adding 37 to the number of chirps produced in 15 seconds. Higher temperature is associated with more frequent chirps. Most species of crickets live on the ground, but some of them live under the ground, inside the caves, or high on the trees. Even though crickets have wings, they do not fly. Crickets can jump or travel short distances by producing jerky moves. Crickets are active during the night (nocturnal creatures). Crickets are omnivores (eat plants and other animals). Their diet includes various types of insects, fungi and plant materials. Frogs, lizards, turtles and large spiders are main predators of crickets. These cute insects are also to be consumed as delicacy in Ireland. Crickets lay eggs in autumn. Eggs remain incubated during the cold winter period and hatch at the beginning of spring. Crickets have incomplete metamorphosis which consists of three developmental stages: egg, nymph and adult insect. Crickets molt as they grow. Young insects look like miniature version of adults. Crickets do not have long lifespan. They can survive up to one year in the wild.

Blue-Winged Grasshopper

Blue-Winged-Grasshopper

Blue-Winged Grasshopper

Blue- Winged-Grasshopper

The Blue-Winged Grasshopper is a heat and drought-loving grasshopper that can be found in of sparse vegetation and barren and sandy areas such as quarries, gravel pits, industrial terrain & the ballast of railway tracks. This species has the ability to perfectly blend in with its surrounding habitat thanks to its morphological camouflage. The base colour varies considerably but you will always find red (to blend in with the soil), blue/white (to blend in with rocks) and almost black animals with a pronounced pattern of dark bands and speckled spots on the bodies. This ability is extremely beneficial for survival as it helps to avoid becoming prey by wandering aerial predators. While they are excellent fliers and very mobile, they usually only fly (reluctantly) when disturbed. The adult animals can be found from mid-June to October. The eggs are laid in open sandy-gritty soil and hatch in late May to early June. It can be found anywhere from Spain to southern Scandinavia and even as far afield as western Russia.

Egyptian Grasshopper

Egyptian Grasshopper

Egyptian Grasshopper

This is a photograph of an Egyptian Grasshopper in the Rain

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Large and impressive, the Egyptian Grasshopper is a common species around the Mediterranean. The adult female Egyptian Grasshopper can reach a length of 65mm. In fact, they are so large, when in flight; they can often be mistaken for a bird. The male is smaller, growing to around 35mm. The antennae of both sexes are relatively short and robust. The spiny projections on the underside of the legs help the insect to cling to vertical surfaces. The adults are generally grey, brown or olive coloured with variable patterns that allows them to camouflage themselves against tree bark and other vegetation and when they catch sight of you they will move slowly to the opposite side of their ‘perch’, hoping to avoid detection. This grasshopper is vegetarian; essentially feeding on leaves and a single insect will cause very little damage. It is a solitary species and not harmful to crops. They can be told apart from other grasshoppers by the diagnostic vertical striped pattern in their eyes, which is visible at all growth stages. Eggs are laid in the spring just under the soil surface. The young grasshoppers are tiny when they first emerge as nymphs and can be found in a variety of colours including bright green and even a pale orange, a selection of which may be found feeding communally. The growing grasshoppers will undergo several moults during their first months; in the early stages the wings are only visible as tiny wing buds that enlarge gradually at each moult. It is not until they go through their last moult to adulthood that the wings develop fully. The Egyptian Grasshopper is occasionally found in Britain, having been imported on trucks laden with vegetables and plants. PS: the bottom photograph of the “Grasshopper In The Rain” won the Pixie Photographer Of The Year in 2013.

Cricket

Cricket

The Cricket can be found hiding under logs, grasses, and in crevices. They can also dig holes into the ground to create homes for themselves, or live in holes created by other animals. Males are territorial and will fight off other males, but allow any number of females to coexist in the same shelter. Male crickets produce several distinctive chirps and each chirp is made by rubbing the two outer wings together. Loud and steady chirps made throughout the night are to attract females and to warn off other males. Loud fast-frequency chirps are emitted when males encounter one another and are preparing to fight. They are intended to frighten off the rival male. A soft clipping sound is made when a female is known to be nearby. Its purpose is to encourage the female to mate. Fun Facts: In many parts of the world, the Cricket is thought to bring good luck. It is rumored that the Cricket can tell the outside temperature: Count the number of chirps they make in one minute, divide by 4 and then add the number 40 to reach the outside temperature. There are about 900 species of crickets worldwide.

Sickle Bearing Bush Cricket

 


Grasshopper


Grasshopper


Grasshopper

The Sickle Bearing Bush Cricket can be found in most of Europe and as far eastwards as Japan, including all central Asia. It is a medium size (35mm) grasshopper with a pale green body covered with black spots and can be seen in dry locations: calcareous meadows, fallow lands, bushes and moorlands from July to October. It can be identified by its wings, which are much longer than the elytra (wing cases). The length of the antenna can reach four times the length of the body. The female’s abdomen ends with a sharply upturned ovipositor. The Sickle Bearing Bush Cricket mainly feeds on plants and the female lay the eggs on the shrub’s leaves, particularly on Blackthorn. The Sickle Bearing Bush Cricket can fly a relatively long distance when frightened. Although, not native to the British Isles, in 2006 a breeding colony was discovered during entomological survey work in Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve in East Sussex. This is the first confirmed breeding record of the species in Britain as adults and nymphs were recorded. Although it was also recorded in Cornwall over 100 years ago this may have been an occasional migrant but it seems that this continental species may be increasing its range.

 

Pink Grasshopper

Pink Grasshopper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This bright Pink Grasshopper is enough to make anyone jump” – and I didn’t find in the jungles of Borneo or Brazil but in Thomastown, County Kilkenny. When I first found ‘Mr. Pink’, I contacted the Irish Wildlife Trust straight away, thinking that my name would go down in the annals of Irish wildlife history but unfortunately for me, I was informed that it is not a rare species but it is a very unusual colour, which makes it a very rare, interesting and strange find. It’s colour, in terms of percentage in normal Meadow Grasshoppers is less than one percent. Most grasshopper species in Ireland are greenish-brown in colour, but some have genetics that can make them pink or purple-red. It is called erythrism, which is an unusual and little-understood genetic mutation caused by a recessive gene similar to that which affects albino animals. The combination of red hair and freckles in humans is thought to be a form of erythrism, too. These grasshoppers tend not to make it to adulthood or survive for long in the wild as predators easily spot them, so it was a treat for me to see and photograph a grasshopper as beautiful as this one. I suppose if it was found in a field of pink flowers, this Pink Grasshopper would have a distinct advantage. PS: this photograph was voted the Irish National Winner in the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards and also graced the cover of the Irish Wildlife Magazine.