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Grasshoppers, Pacific Northwest

Clear Winged Grasshoppers
Clear Winged Grasshopper, Photo By Bud Logan

Grasshoppers belong to a large and diverse order of insects. Some are among the largest living insects, with bodies about 12 cm long and wingspans almost twice as great.

They have biting and chewing mouth parts and oversized hind legs that are modified for jumping. Most have a general ability, especially in males, to make loud noises when jumping or gliding. The order also has the ability to make sounds that are used for communication. These sounds are often the most important characteristics for separating closely related species. Creating sound is done by striking the abdomen with a ridge on the inside of the hind femur and others can make a snapping noise with their hind wings in flight.

Although most are not particularly strong fliers, wings are usually functional but sometimes they are absent. When fully developed, the fore wings, which are not used for flying, are usually leathery and narrower than the broad hind wings.

Females normally lay eggs on the ground in pods held together by a foamy secretion. Development is gradual and the nymphs resemble the adults from birth, just smaller. Most feed on plants, but some are omnivorous and a few are carnivorous.

Grasshoppers are particularly active in warm weather and sunshine. They do well in temperate climates.

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