Locusts or Grasshoppers
I was reading a book about Insects to a group of
The children compared their knowledge of insects to what they had seen in
cartoon "Bug's Life". The students and myself had a discussion about
Hoppers in the story were locusts or grasshoppers. I insisted that the
our book compared more to a locust in the cartoon than a grasshopper.
In my very limited knowledge of intemology, I looked and it appeared to me
term locust and grasshopper might be interchangeable. It seemed to me
locust had wings
but that some grasshoppers might also have wings. What if any is the
A grasshopper and a locust?
Having somewhat older kids now I must admit I haven't seen "A Bug's Life"
but on the always confusing subject of grasshoppers and locusts: I believe
all American insects of this group are grasshoppers, and that true locusts
only occur in Eurasia, mostly the middle east. I can't tell you immediately
what the anatomical differences are, but you should be able to find some
good pictures and descriptions in a library. All grasshoppers have wings, I
suspect all locusts do also. It is common for people, especially in the
western U.S., to call some kinds of grasshoppers "locusts" but that is not
Grasshopper and locust are the same type of insect. However, a locust is a changed
grasshopper in that it has different behaviors and coloration. What
triggers these changes is not completely understood, but recent evidence suggests
that the individuals of a group influence each other. In some locales,
locust develop periodically while in others, just the normal grasshopper
appears. Both have wings. However, the developing grasshopper takes
several months to become an adult. They hatch as very small grasshoppers
and grow over the summer months. This is "incomplete metamorphosis",
unlike the metamorphosis of butterflys, moths, etc.
As I understand, "grasshoppers" is a general term referring to two
different types of insects, the "long-horned" grasshoppers (katydids), and
"short-horned" grasshoppers (locusts). So, "Hopper" in "Bug's Life" would
have been a short-horned grasshopper.
Adult locusts have wings, and they fly with a buzzing sound. The wings are
actually quite pretty in flight, showing flashes of bright colors. This is
surprising for an otherwise olive-drab insect. The larvae lok a lot like
the adults, but they do not have wings. They can hop just like the adults,
Richard Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
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Update: June 2012