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In summer they hop happily in the grass and delight with their loud chirping. Grasshoppers are real acrobats in the insect kingdom. But can insects fly? We look into this question.

In a nutshell

  • More than 20 grasshopper species and around 100 other grasshopper species live in Central Europe
  • Most of these have wings but are virtually flightless
  • Grasshoppers use their wings to help each other jump
  • The ability to fly varies not only from species to species, but also from specimen to specimen

Great biodiversity in Central Europe

These insects stand out because of their long hind legs, which are used for hopping and making music. From June to October, the little animals can be seen in the meadows, along the way, and some can even be observed in wet areas. From a biological point of view, grasshoppers (Gomphocerinae) belong to the grasshopper family (Acrididae) and to the species-rich order of locusts (Orthoptera). In Central Europe alone, over 25 species jump and make music, including:

  • Common Grasshopper
  • field grasshopper
  • Nightingale Grasshopper.
  • Small heather grasshopper
  • Big Gold Cricket
  • Misjudged Grasshopper
  • Red cricket
  • and many others

Do all grasshoppers have wings?

Almost all native grasshopper species have wings. The typical grasshopper wings consist of two pairs - the wing covers and the hind wings. The elytra are relatively hard and semi-transparent. On the one hand, the elytra serve to protect the soft hindwings. On the other hand, some insects use their elytra next to their thighs as a musical instrument. The hind wings, on the other hand, are almost transparent, finely veined and lie folded under the elytra. This pair of wings is longer than the elytra and helps the locust jump.
Did you know that the more migratory locusts form a swarm, the stronger their pairs of wings become? Touching the insects stimulates the release of growth hormones. Our European locusts, unlike some of their kind, do not gang together and do not cause plagues.

Fly or rather jump?

Although most of these little creatures have wings, the insects are more in their element when they hop. Not only do they always prefer hopping as a method of locomotion, but they are actually flightless.
Interesting: A native species of grasshopper can cover distances of around 2 meters in one jump.
When jumping from one blade of grass to another, the hoppers sometimes spread their wings. This happens when the distance is relatively large. Their spread, rapidly flapping wings serve as additional propulsion, help with balancing and steering. But the strength of the hind legs is indispensable when jumping. Hardly any of these insects will move forward and stay in the air by the movement of their wings alone.

Aeronautics different within a species

The wing size and power of grasshoppers not only vary between species, but are also individual. The differences in morphology, i.e. in the appearance of the individual body regions, are also noticeable between the populations. A large-winged - macropterous - population can live alongside a flightless family of grasshoppers. However, these animals will also not be able to fly any significant distances. Hopping is and will remain the locomotion of choice for all grasshopper species.

Common grasshopper mostly flightless

We would like to introduce you to this pretty, green grasshopper as a representative of the native grasshopper species. The Chorthippus parallelus, the Latin name for the common grasshopper, is probably the most common one. This insect is one of the species that uses its ceiling wings to make music. They run the saw comb along the inside of their hind legs along the edges of the elytra and produce a shrill, vibrating sound.

Notice: The higher the ambient temperature, the faster the chirping speed.

Females and males are winged, the males are smaller and have stronger pairs of wings. The macropteric populations are comparatively good fliers, the brachypteric specimens only have stubs instead of hind wings. The insect must not count on the help of these pairs of wings when jumping.

frequently asked Questions

How high is a grasshopper jump?

The insects are long jumpers rather than high jumpers. None of them can jump more than 1 meter high.

What to do if a grasshopper got into the house?

An insect could get into the house through a clumsy flight jump or with clothing. The insects hardly find out by themselves. Offer the animal your hand or a napkin as a means of transport and put it outside. Please do not release from one of the upper floors into freedom. Such a flight may end fatally for the insect.

Which grasshopper is green and wingless?

That could possibly be the southern oak cricket, a relative of our hoppers.

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