Grasshopper vs. Locust: 6 Differences That Make Them Different
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Main points :
- Locusts and grasshoppers are very similar insects, yet they are very different.
- Although there are 11,000 known species of locusts, there are only 19 species of locusts.
- A key difference is that locusts can fly while grasshoppers cannot.
Grasshoppers and locusts look strikingly similar, but how similar are they? Sure – they all have bouncy legs and bodies of a certain color, but each stands on its own as a rather unique animal. While there are some physical traits that set them apart, their behavior is the most obvious way of distinguishing them.
Each of these insects has a specific diet, even though they are all herbivores. However, only grasshoppers have the ability to physically change into one another when swarming. Plus, each of them live to less than a year, but only locusts have a few months to change their lives.
Comparing Grasshoppers and Locusts
Although grasshoppers and locusts are often confused, they are both quite special insects. Interestingly, locusts are already a member of the grasshopper family, but they differ in some ways.
At present, there are about 11,000 known species of locusts in the world, and only 19 species of locusts.
Check out the table below for some key differences.
Grasshoppers vs. Locusts: Appearance and Behavior
Grasshoppers and locusts belong to the same order Orthoptera, but they differ markedly in appearance and behavior.
Let's dig a little deeper:
Grasshoppers are usually green, brown or gray in color and have elongated bodies ranging in size from a few millimeters to a few inches. They have large hind legs suitable for jumping, and their wings are usually longer than their bodies. Grasshoppers have short antennae and relatively small eyes.
Locusts, on the other hand, are a type of grasshopper that change in behavior and appearance when they enter the swarming stage. During this stage, the locusts become larger and change in color from green to yellow or brown. They also grow longer wings and stronger hind legs, allowing them to fly over long distances.
Grasshoppers are solitary insects that are active during the day and feed on a variety of plant material, including leaves, stems and flowers. They are known for their distinctive "song," which is produced by rubbing their wings together. Grasshoppers use their large hind legs to hop away from potential predators and may also use camouflage to avoid detection.
All animals and insects are unique in some way. These facts are not only interesting, but often so unique that they make you wonder about the creativity and ingenuity of nature.
For example, the gestation period varies across mammals, noses. Each animal's ears and eyes are unique to that species, and mating rituals, fur, skin, color and instincts are all well worth observing.
As the saying goes, no two things in nature are the same, especially grasshoppers and locusts. Let's find out some amazing facts about them:
There are many things you may not know about grasshoppers. Here are some examples:
- Grasshoppers have ears on their stomachs
- Grasshoppers make music by vocalizing
- Grasshoppers existed before the dinosaurs
- Grasshoppers are a good source of protein
There are also some interesting things about locusts:
- If food runs out, locusts turn into cannibals
- locusts have serrated jaws
- Locusts are waterproof and detoxify
- Eating locusts may reduce heart disease
|size||about 2 inches long||about 2-3 inches long|
|life||1 year||3-6 months|
|color||green, olive, brown, yellow and red||Green, black and brown (depending on population)|
|number of species||11,000 different species||19 different species (all part of the grasshopper family)|
6 Key Differences Between Grasshopper and Locust
When it comes to grasshoppers and locusts, most people end up using the two phrases interchangeably. They're not entirely wrong — they belong to the same insect family, have a similar body shape, and even a similar color. However, there are still a few ways to tell which one is in your backyard.
Locust vs Grasshopper: Bigger Body
Of all the different species of locusts and grasshoppers, locusts are generally smaller in size. Although locusts are slightly larger on average, there are far fewer species that reach this average. Also, when swarms form, female locusts get smaller.
Locusts vs Grasshoppers: Swarming
If you haven't kept locusts and grasshoppers together, you may still not be able to tell which is which. Typically, locusts are able to reproduce as individual insects or as part of a colony, depending on the density of the population.
Although few in number, they act independently like grasshoppers. When the population is large, locusts prefer to breed in swarms.
However, grasshoppers don't usually swarm unless their serotonin levels spike, which causes them to exhibit the same behavioral and physiological changes as locusts.
Locusts vs. Grasshoppers: Work up an appetite
Despite their small size, these organisms eat a steady diet. The locust needs a lot of food to maintain its small body and it will eat the weight of plants such as leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds and stems.
Their diet consists entirely of green plants, although they will also feed on dead grasshoppers in a pinch. If the locusts were part of a colony, that colony could eat the same amount as 10 elephants.
Grasshoppers will eat almost any plant or vegetable available, and they're not nearly that fussy. Their stomachs contain a special enzyme that breaks down anything, even dead leaves. In addition, they eat much more than locusts, up to 16 times their body weight.
Locusts vs. Grasshoppers: Natural Habitats
Your location may be a good indication of what kind of insect you're dealing with. Locusts are often found in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. During periods of low activity, these areas consisted of approximately 30 counties.
However, 60 countries in the region are most prone to when large swarms are present. At that time, they covered about 20% of the Earth's surface.
Grasshoppers are less picky about their habitat. They can thrive almost anywhere, from mountains to tropical forests, grasslands to savannahs. Some species of grasshoppers even live near water.
Locusts vs. Grasshoppers: Defense Mechanisms
Since these insects are all fairly small and from the same family, some of the defense mechanisms they use are the same. With long legs, everyone's first impulse is to jump away when camouflaging their surroundings doesn't work. If they cannot escape, they release different fluids with their bodies.
Grasshoppers are one of many species that use defensive regurgitation as their primary form of defense. This release creates a foul taste and sometimes odor in the predator's mouth. On the other hand, the toxin released by locusts is more aggressive.
Locusts vs Grasshoppers: Flying Insects
Not every insect can fly, and grasshoppers fall into this category. The only way they can get around is by jumping. Locusts, however, were much luckier. Thanks to their wings, they can fly anywhere they need to go, which doesn't allow them to jump. In fact, it was this flight that made their swarming so frightening to many.
|anatomy||~2 long||~1.5 inches long|
|Behavior||solitary||in groups or alone|
|diet||Stomach enzyme can break down almost any plant and eat 16 times its own body weight||Loss of appetite in plants such as leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, and stems|
|Habitat||thrives in most environments||African, Middle Eastern, Asian bee swarms can cover 20% of the Earth's surface|
|defense||Reflux – bad taste/smell||toxin release|
|flight||no hops||can fly|
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about the author
Lex is a green, tree-loving animal lover and mother of 21 felines and a dog. Now, she helps pet owners around the world become the best caretakers for their most trusted pets by sharing her experiences and spreading love.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
How did a grasshopper become a locust?
A burst of serotonin in grasshoppers can cause them to turn into locusts, according to research. This hormone affects parts of the nervous system, causing them to swarm.
Is a grasshopper a locust?
Technically, a locust is a type of grasshopper. They belong to the short-horned grasshopper family. However, not all grasshoppers are locusts.
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