Grasshopper, a leaping insect closely related to roaches and crickets. There are two types of grasshoppers: long-horned and short-horned. Long-horned grasshoppers have antennae, or feelers, about the same length as the body. Short-horned grasshoppers have antennae less than half the length of the body. Short-horned grasshoppers are often called locusts, particularly when they migrate. The 17-year-locust, however, is not a grasshopper but a cicada.

The grasshopperThe grasshopper is a leaping insect related to roaches and crickets.

There are hundreds of species of grasshoppers, distributed throughout the temperate and warmer regions of the world. They range in length from one-half inch (1.3 cm) to more than six inches (15 cm) in some tropical species. Grasshoppers are generally colored green, brown, or gray.

What Are Grasshoppers and Their Relatives?

There are over 1 million different kinds of insects in the world. Grasshoppers belong to a group of insects called orthoptera (awr THAHP tuhr uh). Katydids (KAY tih dihdz) and crickets also belong to this group.

Most of these insects can do amazing leaps. A grasshopper about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) long can leap 20 inches (50.8 centimeters). If a person 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall could jump that well, he or she could leap from one end of a basketball court to the other.

Orthoptera are also known for their musical talents. Many communicate by sound. And they have unusual ways of making their “songs.”

Like all insects, orthoptera have three pairs of legs. To spot an orthopteron, look at its two hind legs. They are longer than the other legs. Powerful muscles in its back legs help an orthopteron leap.

Where in the World Do These Animals Live?

These animals live almost everywhere on land. They live in forests, grasslands, and deserts. They even live on mountains. But there are two places where they don’t live—the freezing North and South poles.

Why not? Because orthoptera need warm bodies in order to survive. Like all insects, orthoptera are cold-blooded. That means the temperature of their bodies changes with the temperature of the air. If it’s hot outside, the insect’s body is hot. If it’s cold outside, the insect’s body is cold. If it’s too cold, the insect could freeze solid.

Did you ever notice when grasshoppers jump the most? They jump most in the middle of a hot afternoon. During the cool morning, they stay still. That’s because grasshoppers and other insects can’t be very active until their bodies warm up.