• Laboratoire des sols
  • Université de lorraine

Orthoptera (grasshoppers, locusts, crickets)



Classification (systematic position)
Source : INPN


Animal Kingdom
Embranchement (Phylum) : Arthropoda
Subphylum: Pancrustacea
Class: Hexapod
Subclass: Insecta
Order: Orthoptera





Morphological characteristics
Insects having an elongated body in 3 parts (head, thorax, abdomen), 2 long antennae, 3 pairs of legs including the hind ones which are very developed to allow jumping, 2 pairs of differentiated wings: the tegmina are the "hardened" wings which protect the underwings used for flight (not all species are able to fly), presence of chewing-type mouthparts. The female has a saber-shaped auger (or oviscapte = abdominal appendage) which is mainly used for laying eggs in order to insert the eggs into the ground, more visible in grasshoppers than in locusts.


Life cycle
Orthoptera mate and lay their eggs in the soil in late summer or early fall in order to overwinter and hatch the following spring. For grasshoppers, the male sticks a spermatophore (pouch containing spermatozoa) to the end of the female's abdomen during mating. The female must then trample it to release the sperm once the male is gone.


Grasshoppers are carnivorous by feeding on insects, such as the great green grasshopper ( Tettigonia viridissima ) and locusts and crickets feed mainly on plant tissue. The brown locust Chorthippus brunneus and some other species can be detritus feeders.


Natural predators or regulators
Orthoptera are preyed upon by spiders, amphibians, lizards, birds and shrews.


Orthoptera are mostly solitary organisms and are found mainly in open environments (high grass, meadows, garden, etc.); they can dig tunnels to hide in. The large green grasshopper ( Tettigonia viridissima ) is common in gardens provided it has a large hunting ground and can fly long distances.


Interests in the garden
Carnivorous Orthoptera species are useful predators in regulating insect populations, including flies and caterpillars. Plant-eating locusts are rarely numerous enough in our regions to cause damage to the plants in your garden.


Did you know ?
To attract females and mark out their territory, male grasshoppers stridulate (produce sounds) by rubbing their wings against each other. In locusts, the stridulation is done by rubbing the legs against the wings.
Locusts are differentiated from grasshoppers by the shape of the body (elongated in locusts and rounded in grasshoppers) and the size of the antennae (short in locusts, long and thin in grasshoppers and crickets).

Last change : 03/04/22
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Figure 1