|MadSci Network: Zoology|
Hi Jeanette. I'm sorry that I took so long in answering your question, but I'm afraid that I have been working away for a week or so. I hope that your eggs have been well in the meantime. Grasshoppers belong to an insect order called 'Orthoptera' along with the crickets, locusts, and ground hoppers. I am often asked how to tell them apart, so I'll pass that information on: Grasshoppers have short antennae, and their ears are on their abdomen, whereas crickets have long antennae that usually reach well back along the abdomen, and their ears are easily visible on their front legs if you can get one to sit still long enough to let you look. Grasshopper wings are also usually much more developed than those of a cricket. The lifecycle of the Orthoptera, in most cases, works on a yearly basis. They are 'exopterygotes' which means that the eggs hatch into nymphs which grow gradually into the adult without using a pupa or chrysalis. By contrast, butterflies are 'endopterygotes' which means that the young look nothing like the adult, and they use a pupa or chrysalis to make the change. Orthoptera lay their eggs in many different places: most crickets lay them in the ground, or at the base of plant stems. Grasshoppers tend to lay them in clusters further up the stem or under leaves. Some species cover the eggs in a foam that sets hard to protect them from frost and predators. All this generally happens in the late Summer or Autumn, and the adults die shortly afterwards. In the spring, the nymphs emerge, usually cased in a membrane to protect their new limbs as they work their way to the outside world; they then shed the membrane and turn from white to their natural colour in about an hour or so. Then they will begin to eat, and eat, and eat, and eat. If you are lucky enough to see an insect hatching, cancel all your appointments and watch one of nature's greatest marvels. I remember spending about two hours watching a mealworm beetle hatch from it's pupa - just amazing. Very very few Orthoptera have a longer life cycle, but this is a trait of the larger species of cricket. Sometimes the nymphs will grow over two years, and in the case of the Great Green Bush Cricket you could be waiting a couple of years just for the eggs to hatch, but fear not - your grasshopper eggs will soon be hatching with a little Texas warmth and sunlight. Enjoy them. Justin.
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