There's more to grasshoppers than their spectacular hops. They have multiple eyes and wings but no ears. If you catch one, it just might spit on you. In some places, grasshoppers are pests that people want to eliminate. In other places, they are considered treats that people want to eat.
Unusual Body Parts
Grasshoppers are tough to catch. That's because grasshoppers have five eyes and are looking at you from all angles at once. Two of the eyes are on the front of its head. These compound eyes are made up of thousands of lenses that can see in all directions. Two simple eyes are in between the compound eyes and the antennae, and the fifth is in a pit on its head. Grasshoppers have no ears. They hear with an organ called a tympanum on its abdomen that picks up noise vibrations. The loud chirping sound it makes comes from a male grasshopper rubbing its back leg against a wing.
Grasshoppers have three sets of very strong legs. They can jump 20 times their own body length. They also have two sets of wings. The front set is hard and rigid. The back set is soft, and both help them fly. They also use their wings to make sound. The brown liquid it spits, which is sometimes called tobacco juice, is a defence mechanism against other insects. It's harmless to humans. The grasshopper's colour also makes it very good at blending in with the scenery. That helps the grasshopper avoid some of its many predators.
There are up to 18,000 different species of grasshoppers and they live everywhere except the North and South Poles. The smallest grasshopper at only 3/4-inch long is the pygmy Grasshopper. The largest, the Giant Grasshopper, can grow up to 3.5 inches. Some farmers love grasshoppers because they eat weeds. Some grasshoppers can quickly destroy crops by eating the plants the farmers want to harvest. Swarms of grasshoppers can eat through fields of wheat, corn, alfalfa and barley in minutes.
Grasshoppers for Dinner
In some parts of the world, including some sections of Africa, China, and Mexico, people actually eat grasshoppers. Grasshoppers are full of protein and even vitamins. Eating grasshoppers raw, however, is dangerous. They should be cooked or at least boiled first, or the human consuming them may get a tapeworm. In some areas, grasshoppers are coated with chocolate and considered a delicious treat.