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People are naturally inquisitive about insects. And being inquisitive means they often have lots of questions about insects. We get many such questions asked of us. Many of these relate to grasshoppers, a common one of which is whether these insects have wings or not.
Grasshoppers do have wings, but they are not born with them.
Just like other insects, grasshoppers have a body that consists of a head, thorax, and abdomen. Their head has a pair of compound eyes, which provide panoramic vision, as well as three simple eyes that help it detect dark and light.
Grasshoppers have antennae which they use for touch and smell, and they have mouthparts designed for chewing foods. A grasshopper’s wings are found on its thoracic segments, which is also where its three pairs of legs are found.
Grasshoppers have two pairs of wings: forewings, which are known as tegmina, and hindwings. The forewings are narrow while the hindwings are large and have veins that provide the wings’ strength.
When Do Grasshoppers Wings Develop?
Female grasshoppers lay their eggs in midsummer and place them around an inch under the surface of sand or leaf litter, where the eggs will stay until the following spring. The female will typically spray a sticky substance over batches of eggs to create an egg pod. All eggs in a pod will usually hatch within minutes of each other and nymphs emerge.
Nymphs are born with membranes that are quickly shed before their exoskeletons become hard. Over a period of around five to six weeks, the nymphs will repeatedly molt and undergo an incomplete metamorphosis, where they will grow larger and develop their wings. At each molt, the wings will grow bigger and bigger and the nymph will start to look more like an adult grasshopper.
Can Grasshoppers Fly?
With so many species of grasshopper, it is not surprising to hear that while most can fly, there are some that cannot. Basically, those that have both fore and hind wings can typically fly while those with forewings only cannot.
In the wild, grasshoppers can travel long distances to find both food and a mate. They can actually fly pretty high too, considering their small size. As well as flying to find food and a mate, a grasshopper might also use its wings to help it escape predators.
- Featured Image (Tobacco Grasshopper): Joydeep – CC BY-SA 3.0
- Rainbow Grasshopper: Stellarkid – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
- Spotted Grasshopper: Crisco 1492 – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
- Leaf Grasshopper: L. Shyamal – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.
- American Bird Grasshopper: Tom Friedel – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.