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Grasshoppers - Ground Living Insects with Powerful Hind Legs

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A Grasshopper

Grasshoppers can be Pests to Plants and Crops

When people talk about grasshoppers they usually mean the common insect of the English countryside that chirps throughout the long summer days and uses its long, thick hind legs to hop about in the grass. It is only the male that sings and he does so by rubbing his back legs against the upper surfaces of his wings. However, no one is quite sure why he sings so cheerfully and continuously in the hottest sunshine.

In the autumn, the female makes a hole in the ground with the help of a special part at the end of her body, and there she lays her eggs. These hatch early in the following summer and the young grasshoppers, which are just like their parents, are usually fully grown by about August. There are about 30 kinds of grasshoppers in Great Britain and many others elsewhere. They all feed only on green plants, but some have rather different habits from the kind just described. Many kinds, such as locusts, can also fly well. Those that chirp in the open meadows are called short-horned grasshoppers because they have short antennae, or feelers. The big locusts that swarm in enormous numbers and eat up the crops are also members of this group, though fortunately only a few locusts are found in Great Britain.

There is another big group called the long-horned grasshoppers which have long waving feelers and are usually bright green in colour. They are sometimes called bush-crickets as most of them live on trees or bushes. However, they are not in fact members of the cricket family. The long-horned group includes the famous katydids of North America, which were given their name because their loud, harsh song sounds rather like the words 'Katy did, she did'. Several bush-crickets are found in Great Britain, the largest being known as the 'great green grasshopper'. This is more often seen in the south of England than elsewhere and its voice is very harsh and grating. Another British long-horned grasshopper, and one which is often found on various shrubs in wilder gardens, has only a Latin name, Leptophyes. It is about 2 centimetres long and has a rather plump, wingless body, bright green peppered with black dots. It jumps gracefully from leaf to leaf and altogether is a pretty little creature. However,in England such long-horned grasshoppers are not so often seen as the short-horned kind, which are often among the commonest insects to be found in the meadows and other grassy places.

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