Grasshopper is the common name for straight-winged INSECTS
which, together with locusts, make up the order Orthoptera.
Over 12 000 species are known worldwide, about 140 in Canada, ranging in length from 2-12 cm. All provinces have grasshoppers; most species occur in the western grasslands, but some live in forest clearings and on trees in river valleys north to the Yukon. Grasshoppers are herbivorous and diurnal. Most have wings; many are strong fliers. Unlike locusts, grasshoppers are usually nonmigratory.
Reproduction and Development
Usually one generation is produced annually from eggs that have overwintered. Some grassland species overwinter as immature nymphs; a few, in the interior of BC, require 2 years to mature. Females lay several clutches (egg pods), each containing 10-90 eggs, depending on the species. Under favourable late summer conditions, large numbers of egg pods are deposited by pest species in densely packed egg beds or distributed through cultivated fields. In spring many nymphs hatch and attack seedling CEREAL CROPS.
Damage can be extensive: in outbreak years, 5-10% of cereal crops may be lost to grasshoppers.
Interaction with Humans
Five species are important insect pests: 4 species of genus Melanoplus
and the clear-winged grasshopper, Camnula pellucida
. All damage cereal crops; the latter devastates BC rangeland GRASSES
. Several other species compete with cattle for forage. Several species, especially the Rocky Mountain locust (M. spretus
), extinct since 1902, for a time discouraged the settlement of Western Canada. Winged adults, flying downwind, can emigrate to invade ripening crops many kilometres distant.
Hot, dry weather favours population growth; cool, damp weather retards growth and encourages fungi and bacteria that can wipe out large grasshopper populations. Birds, small mammals and other insects prey on grasshoppers; small worms and maggots are internal parasites. Although weather and natural control agents are most effective in keeping numbers down, chemical control during an outbreak is still required for crop protection.
The so-called long-horned grasshoppers are not true grasshoppers. They are more closely related to CRICKETS.
Grasshoppers damage cereal crops and rangeland grasses and compete with cattle for forage (artwork by Jan Sovak, 1989).
V.R. Vickery and D.K. McEwan Kevan, The Grasshoppers, Crickets and Related Insects of Canada and Adjacent Regions (1985); R.F. Chapman and A. Joern, Biology of Grasshoppers (1990).
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Biodiversity Website
A great information source for all budding biologists. Learn about biodiversity theory, natural history, and conservation issues. From McGill’s Redpath Museum.
An extensively illustrated guide to wildlife species found in British Columbia. Covers bats, birds, beetles, bugs and much more. Also features an insect glossary and notes about invasive species. A biogeographic initiative of the Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, UBC.
The Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes
This website provides information about the scope and contents of the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes. Check the “Index” link for illustrated descriptions of various taxonomic groups.
University of Alberta's E.H. Strickland Entomological Museum
Check out images and information about insect specimens found in the University of Alberta's E.H. Strickland Entomological Museum, one of the most significant insect collections in Canada.
Aquatic Invertebrates of Alberta Online Textbook
An online guide to all major groups of Alberta's aquatic invertebrates. Offers illustrated details of the natural history of each group as well as tips on collecting and preserving specimens. A University of Alberta website.