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What Does a Grasshopper Eat?

 
By Anaƫlle Laurent. Updated: July 8, 2020
What Does a Grasshopper Eat?

We often see grasshoppers jumping from one plant to the other and camouflaging into the beautiful scenery. Some of us may stop by and observe these little insects and wonder what their life is like.

In this AnimalWised article we're going to talk about what a grasshopper eats and drinks. We'll also talk about the difference in diet when it comes to green or brown grasshoppers. Let's dive right in!

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Grasshopper digestive system

Grasshoppers have a chewing mouth apparatus that has slight modifications depending on the type of diet. This buccal apparatus consists of mandibular, maxillary and lip structures, involved in feeding grasshoppers. This can be carnivorous, although the majority of grasshoppers are phytophagous, basing their diet mainly on plants, which can sometimes cause damage to crops.

In the following sections, we will learn about two types of grasshoppers and their particular diet. We're talking about the green grasshopper and the brown grasshopper, also known as the rufous grasshopper.

When talking about a grasshopper's diet, we must also speak about their anatomy. More specifically, their digestive system. Once the grasshopper puts the food in their mouth, the food is sent to the esophagus which then sends it to the crop. Humans don't have a crop, this organ is used to store food and is different than the stomach. The food is then taken to the gizzard, an organ not found in humans that breaks down the food to be digested.

Once processed, it continues its journey through the grasshopper's digestive system by going to the gastric caeca. Now it's sent to the stomach to further break down the food. The nutrients are extracted as the food passes by the intestine. It is then sent to the rectum to have all the water content extracted from the food. Lastly, what is left of the food is excreted through the anus as the grasshopper has already absorbed everything it needs from the food.

To learn more about grasshoppers, we recommend also reading our article about if bugs feel pain. In that article we take a look at the recent studies of bug pain.

What Does a Grasshopper Eat? - Grasshopper digestive system

Differences between brown and green grasshoppers

Both types of grasshoppers have a very similar structure, although, given their different way of life, some morphological differences can be distinguished between the brown grasshopper and the typical green grasshopper that we are used to seeing in nature.

Brown grasshopper

The well-known rufous grasshopper are a type of grasshopper characterized by their gregarious behavior. These insects gather in masses and are capable of traveling long distances together in search of food. Therefore, they have developed longer and more resistant structures that allow such migrations, for example, their wings.

As for their coloration, they have adopted these brown tones as a way of blending into the environment, as is the case with most grasshoppers belonging to the pangagid family. Some grasshoppers experience a reduction or loss of their ability to fly, making them more vulnerable to predators for not being able to fly and flee. This is when having these brown tones as a way of camouflage between the leaves or the ground is very useful.

Green grasshopper

The green grasshopper is usually solitary. They are commonly found within vegetation and are known to travel short distances to feed. To do this, they have powerful jumping back legs that can also be used to quickly flee predators if threatened or in danger.

If you're enjoying this article, we also invite you to check out our article on the largest insects in the world.

What Does a Grasshopper Eat? - Differences between brown and green grasshoppers

What do grasshoppers eat?

Grasshoppers have taste buds on their antennae, with which they receive information about the quality of the food before it is taken to the mouth and crushed with its strong jaws.

In general, they are phytophagous animals, since they consume a large amount of plant matter, such as certain leaves, grass and fruit. However, it should be noted that there are also species that feed on other small insects such as some mosquitoes.

In this section we will talk about the difference between a green grasshoppers's and a brown grasshopper's diet:

What do brown grasshoppers eat?

Rufous grasshoppers are mainly herbivores, as they are grouped into huge pests capable of killing more than 100,000 tons of plants daily. They are impressively voracious from the moment they are born until they die and can cause economic damage, since some losses have already been verified in peanut, soybean and corn crops, among others, due to their high demand of food.

In short, they are animals capable of feeding on hundreds of different plant species since they need to consume the equivalent of their body weight per day. This is the case, for example, of the genus locusts Schistocerca.

What do green grasshoppers eat?

Green grasshoppers can also consume a large amount of plants, such as different species of plants, fruits or herbs. However, within this group, you can also find a set of predatory or omnivorous species.

This is the case of some grasshoppers of the Tettigoniidae family. Another example is the common green grasshopper (Tettigonia viridissima) whose diet is based on other animals, such as small insects (caterpillars, flies, mosquitoes, larvae, etc.).

What Does a Grasshopper Eat? - What do grasshoppers eat?

Do grasshoppers drink water?

No, they don't drink water like we do. In nature, like other herbivorous insects, grasshoppers obtain the necessary water intake from the plants they consume. For example, grass is about 85% water, making it a great option for grasshoppers who are looking to feed and hydrate their bodies.

Being animals that consume plants in large quantities, they are always sufficiently hydrated. However, as expected, they will receive more water if they consume grass or wetter leaves that contain a higher concentration of water. Therefore, it's normal to observe grasshoppers near humid areas as the vegetation in this type of environment will provide them with rich and nutritious plants to feed on.

Now that you know what grasshoppers eat, you may be interested in this other article about animals that consume insects.

If you want to read similar articles to What Does a Grasshopper Eat?, we recommend you visit our Healthy diets category.

Bibliography
  • Buratovich. (2003). Locust. An ancient plague . Website: museantafefe.com.ar/descargas/35_texto7.pdf
  • Cadena O., Cardona J .. (2015). Introduction to the Colombian grasshoppers . Colombia
  • Clemente M., García., Presa J .. (1987). Key to the genera of Iberian grasshoppers (orthoptera, caelifera) . University of Murcia.
  • López H., Oromí P .. (2006). Acrostira Tenerifae (Orthoptera, Pamphagidae) . Dialnet Website: https://dialnet.unirioja.es/buscar/documentos?querysDismax.DOCUMENTAL_TODO=acrostira+tenerifae
  • Vitti D., Szwark D., Parodi M., Colombo F .. (2017). Locusts, plagues of yesterday and today . Voices and Echoes (22-25): EEA Reconquista.

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