Let Creation Speak
Grasshoppers Chirping Leapers
– Kathy Downs
Some sunny summer day take a walk in a dry field or grassy meadow. Listen for sounds of wildlife. What’s that chirping sound? Kick some grass. Wow! What jumped in front of you? Look closer. It’s a grasshopper! Grasshoppers are quick and have strong back legs. They can jump three and a half feet in one hop.
Try catching the grasshopper even if you have to try a few times—but watch out, it might spit some brown juice for defense! (Don’t worry, a grasshopper won’t hurt you and neither will its spit.)
When this insect is in your hand, look at it closely. It has three main body parts—head, thorax and abdomen. It also has six legs and two pairs of wings.
On the head, notice the grasshopper’s two, big compound eyes. It sees every moving thing nearby and that’s why you had fun catching it. Look even closer—there are three more eyes. They tell the grasshopper if it’s light or dark. Our creative God makes all five grasshopper eyes work together to find food and they also help the bug get away from predators such as birds, frogs and lizards.
The two antennae are used for touch and smell. They also identify what kind of grasshopper you’ve caught. If the antennae are long, it’s a long-horned grasshopper, usually called a katydid. If the antennae are short, it’s a short-horned grasshopper, usually called a locust or field grasshopper.
The grasshopper’s sharp jaws called mandibles have saw-like edges for cutting up grass, grain and vegetables. Only katydids eat other insects. Our Creator, God, even put tiny feelers behind the jaws for tasting. Attached to the thorax (chest) are six legs for walking and leaping. The two back legs work like a frog’s back legs, catapulting the grasshopper through the air. On top of the thorax are two pairs of wings. The top pair forms a tough covering over the large, fan-folded, thin pair. They help leaping grasshoppers glide. Let yours go and watch. Does it fly or leap? Usually it will leap.
Field grasshopper legs and wings also make music. To sing, they rub tiny leg bumps over their ridged wings, almost like a bow rubs across violin strings. One expert has nicknamed them fiddlehoppers.
The last body part is the abdomen. It contains the stomach and air holes for breathing because grasshoppers don’t have lungs. Females also produce eggs in this part.
Grasshoppers live only one summer. That’s the season the female lays eggs in the ground. A special egg case protects the eggs during winter. In spring nymphs hatch from the eggs. They look like their parents but are smaller and wingless. Nymphs are hungry and grow fast. Soon they outgrow their skin and must shed it. We call this molting. Molting includes swallowing air to puff up its body and split its tight skin. After five moltings the grasshopper’s wings are fullgrown and ready to fly.
Did you know grasshoppers are one of God’s creative surprises? More than 600 species of grasshoppers live in the United States! Their differences are amazing! Some are green with goofy faces. Others are brown and live in the woods— they blend right in! Some look zany with wild stripes. Others have bright red back legs. What color is the grasshopper you caught? See how many different kinds you can find in your yard. The more you find, the more you’ll understand how truly great God is— grasshoppers are another example of God’s awesome work of creation!