Backyard Buddies
Grasshoppers

Photo: Charles J Sharp

Grasshoppers

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During the hot nights of summer, grasshoppers are getting ready to breed. Around dusk in the disappearing light male grasshoppers sing romantic serenades to attract females. Their range of pitch and calls are endless.

The male grasshopper creates music using his legs. Like a bow drawn across violin strings, the grasshopper draws his legs across his front pair of wings to make buzzes and trills. It may help attract a mate but this noisy behaviour also makes it easy for predators to find them. Sugar gliders, lizards, snakes, assassin bugs, frogs, ants and worms all love to feed on grasshoppers. The grasshopper's solution is camouflage.

The green Vegetable Grasshopper and the khaki-coloured Hedge Grasshopper can easily hide amongst leaves. These are two of the most common grasshoppers you're likely to hear, as they like well-watered suburban gardens and low, broad leaved plants.

Grasshoppers feed on plant leaves, shoots and roots. They only cause trouble when they appear in large numbers. There are over 500 species in the grasshopper family (called Acrididae) in Australia, and only a handful of these form swarms that cause trouble to crops.

If you want to find a grasshopper, move in close to some noisy bushes. One will spring wildly into the air and land. Their strong, chicken drumstick-shaped legs allow them to make enormous leaps.

Did you know? 

You can tell a Short-Horned grasshopper from a cricket by the size of their antennae. Crickets have longer antennae than these grasshoppers. Most grasshoppers also feed on plant material, whereas crickets are omnivores. Also crickets are mainly nocturnal, whereas Short-Horned grasshoppers are active during the day.

Tip

Grasshoppers lay their eggs in soil, although some lay eggs on leaves. The eggs remain dormant until it rains, sometimes for years. If you're trying to deter grasshoppers, aerate your soil to disturb any eggs.

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Photo: OEH