Grasshopper Anatomy Like all insects, the grasshoppers have three main body parts – the head, the thorax and the abdomen. They have six jointed legs, two pairs of wings and two antennae. Their body is covered with a hard exoskeleton. Grasshoppers breathe through a series of holes called ‘spiracles’ which are located along the sides of the body. Most grasshoppers are green, brown, or olive-green.
The biggest Grasshoppers are about 4.5 inches (11.5 centimetres) long. Their legs are long hind legs that are used for hopping and jumping. The short front legs are used to hold prey and to walk.
Can you name the parts of the grasshoppers anatomy below?
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For a more indepth look at the anatomy of a grasshoppers body, click the image. For an indepth look at the head of a grasshopper, click the image.
Abdomen – the segmented tail area of a grasshopper, which contains the heart, reproductive organs, and most of the digestive system.
Antennae – like all insects, grasshoppers have 2 segmented antennae that sense touch and odours.
Compound eye – grasshoppers have 2 faceted eyes made up of many hexagonal lenses.
Head – the head is at the front end of the grasshoppers body and is the location of the brain, the two compound eyes, the mouth parts, and the points of attachment of its two antennae.
Jumping legs -the long, hindmost pair of the grasshoppers six legs.
Mandibles – the jaws, located near the tip of the head, by the palps; the jaws crush the food.
Palps – long, segmented mouth parts (under the jaws) that grasp the food.
Spiracles – a series of holes located along both sides of the abdomen; they are used for breathing.
Thorax – the middle area of the grasshoppers body – where the legs and wings are attached.
Walking legs – the four, short front legs that are used for walking and holding prey while they eat.
Wings – grasshoppers have two long wings which they use for flying.
Short-horned grasshoppers have ears in the sides of the abdomen.
Long-horned grasshoppers and crickets have ears in the knee-joints of their front legs.
How Do Grasshoppers Jump?
A good ‘jump’ means that the legs must push against the ground with high force and high speed.
The ultimate source of this push comes from the contraction of the muscles inside the leg, this give the jump the catapulting effect.
To get a good jump requires two things.
1. The legs have to thrust on the ground with a lot of force. If the thrust is too low, the animal does not get a fast enough take-off and it does not jump very far.
2. The legs have to develop this force quickly.
If the thrust builds up too slowly, the legs will extend before the thrust reaches its maximum.
Once the grasshopper is standing on tip-toe, it cannot thrust against the ground any more, therefore, it is ‘take off’ time and off it goes.