Orthoptera is an order of insects that comprises the grasshoppers, locusts and crickets, including closely related insects such as the katydids and wetas. The order is subdivided into two suborders: Caelifera – grasshoppers, locusts and close relatives; and Ensifera – crickets and close relatives.

More than 20,000 species are distributed worldwide.[1] The insects in the order have incomplete metamorphosis, and produce sound (known as a "stridulation") by rubbing their wings against each other or their legs, the wings or legs containing rows of corrugated bumps. The tympanum or ear is located in the front tibia in crickets, mole crickets, and katydids, and on the first abdominal segment in the grasshoppers and locusts.[2] These organisms use vibrations to locate other individuals.

Grasshoppers and other orthopterans are able to fold their wings (i.e. they are members of Neoptera), and they are frequently grouped with similar "Orthopteroid" insect orders.

Temporal range: Permian–recent 290–0 Ma
Roesel's bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeselii diluta) male
Roesel's bush-cricket
family Tettigoniidae
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Superorder: Orthopterida
(unranked): Panorthoptera
Order: Orthoptera
Latreille, 1793
Extant suborders and superfamilies

Suborder Ensifera

Suborder Caelifera


The name is derived from the Greek ὀρθός orthos meaning "straight" and πτερόν pteron meaning "wing".


Orthopterans have a generally cylindrical body, with elongated hindlegs and musculature adapted for jumping. They have mandibulate mouthparts for biting and chewing and large compound eyes, and may or may not have ocelli, depending on the species. The antennae have multiple joints and filiform type, and are of variable length.[2]

The first and third segments on the thorax are larger, while the second segment is much smaller. They have two pairs of wings, which are held overlapping the abdomen at rest. The forewings, or tegmina, are narrower than the hindwings and hardened at the base, while the hindwing is membranous, with straight veins and numerous cross-veins. At rest, the hindwings are held folded fan-like under the forewings. The final two to three segments of the abdomen are reduced, and have single-segmented cerci.[2]

Life cycle

Orthopterans have a paurometabolous lifecycle or incomplete metamorphosis. The use of sound is generally crucial in courtship, and most species have distinct songs.[3] Most grasshoppers lay their eggs in the ground or on vegetation. The eggs hatch and the young nymphs resemble adults, but lack wings and at this stage are often called 'hoppers'. They may often also have a radically different coloration from the adults. Through successive moults, the nymphs develop wings until their final moult into a mature adult with fully developed wings.[2]

The number of moults varies between species; growth is also very variable and may take a few weeks to some months depending on food availability and weather conditions.



The Orthoptera is divided into two suborders, Caelifera and Ensifera (crickets) which have been shown to be monophyletic.[4][5][6]


Grylloidea (crickets) Arachnocephalus vestitus01

Rhaphidophoroidea (cave weta, cave crickets) Ceuthophiluscricket

Tettigonoidea (grigs, weta, katydids, etc) Cricket September 2010-1

Elcanidea †

Oedischiidea †

Gryllavoidea †

Schizodactyloidea (dune crickets) Пальцепалый кузнечик.jpg


Tridactyloidea Pygmy mole cricket (8071068977) cropped

[2 extinct superfamilies]


Tetrigoidea Tetrix subulata 2


Eumastacoidea Monkey hopper (14795010039)

Pneumoroidea Bladder Grasshopper (Bullacris intermedia) (30068047440)

Pyrgomorphoidea Variegated grasshopper (Zonocerus variegatus)

Acridoidea etc. SGR laying


Garden locust (Acanthacris ruficornis)
Garden locust (Acanthacris ruficornis), Ghana, family Acrididae
Variegated grasshopper (Zonocerus variegatus)
Variegated grasshopper (Zonocerus variegatus), Ghana, family Pyrgomorphidae

Taxonomists classify members of the Caelifera and Ensifera into infraorders and superfamilies as follows:[7][8][9]

Relationships with humans

As pests

Several species of Orthoptera are considered pests of crops and rangelands or seeking warmth in homes by humans. The two species of Orthoptera that cause the most damage are grasshoppers and locusts. Locust are historically known for wiping out fields of crops in a day. Locust have the ability to eat up to their own body weight in a single day.[10] Individuals gather in large groups called swarms, these swarms can range up to 80 million individuals that stretch 460 square miles.[10] Grasshoppers can cause major agricultural damage but not to the documented extent as locust historically have. These insects mainly feed on weeds and grasses, however, during times of drought and high population density they will feed on crops. They are known pest in soybean fields and will likely feed on these crops once preferred food sources have become scarce.[11]

As food

The Orthoptera include the only insects considered kosher in Judaism. The list of dietary laws in the book of Leviticus forbids all flying insects that walk, but makes an exception for certain locusts. Strangely, the dragonfly and cranefly are not kosher, but they are helpless when unable to fly.[12] The Torah states the only kosher flying insects with four walking legs have knees that extend above their feet so that they hop.[13] Thus nonjumping Orthoptera such as mole crickets are certainly not kosher.

As creators of biofuel

With new research showing promise in locating alternative biofuel sources in the gut of insects, grasshoppers are one species of interest. The insect's ability to break down cellulose and lignin without producing greenhouse gases has aroused scientific interest.[14]

See also


  1. ^ "Orthoptera - Grasshoppers, Locusts, Crickets, Katydids". Discover Life. Retrieved 2017-09-06.
  2. ^ a b c d Hoell, H.V., Doyen, J.T. & Purcell, A.H. (1998). Introduction to Insect Biology and Diversity, 2nd ed. Oxford University Press. pp. 392–394. ISBN 978-0-19-510033-4.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Imes, Rick (1992), The practical entomologist, Simon and Schuster, pp. 74–75, ISBN 978-0-671-74695-7
  4. ^ Zhou Z, Ye H, Huang Y, Shi F. (2010) The phylogeny of Orthoptera inferred from mtDNA and description of Elimaea cheni (Tettigoniidae: Phaneropterinae) mitogenome. J. Genet. Genomics. 37(5):315-324
  5. ^ Gwynne, Darryl T. (1995). "Phylogeny of the Ensifera (Orthoptera): a hypothesis supporting multiple origins of acoustical signalling, complex spermatophores and maternal care in crickets, katydids, and weta". Journal of Orthoptera Research. 4 (4): 203–218. JSTOR 3503478.
  6. ^ Flook, P. K.; Rowell, C. H. F. (1997). "The Phylogeny of the Caelifera (Insecta, Orthoptera) as Deduced from mtrRNA Gene Sequences". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 8 (1): 89–103. doi:10.1006/mpev.1997.0412. PMID 9242597.
  7. ^ "Orthoptera Species File Online" (PDF). University of Illinois. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  8. ^ Blackith, RE; Blackith, RM (1968). "A numerical taxonomy of Orthopteroid insects". Australian Journal of Zoology. 16 (1): 111. doi:10.1071/ZO9680111.
  9. ^ Flook, P. K.; Klee, S.; Rowell, C. H. F.; Simon, C. (1999). "Combined Molecular Phylogenetic Analysis of the Orthoptera (Arthropoda, Insecta) and Implications for Their Higher Systematics" (PDF). Systematic Biology. 48 (2): 233–253. doi:10.1080/106351599260274. ISSN 1076-836X.
  10. ^ a b Society, National Geographic. "Locusts, Locust Pictures, Locust Facts - National Geographic". National Geographic. Retrieved 2016-04-11.
  11. ^ Krupke, Christian. "Grasshoppers | Pests | Soybean | Integrated Pest Management | IPM Field Crops | Purdue University". extension.entm.purdue.edu. Retrieved 2016-04-11.
  12. ^ Gordon, David George (1998), The eat-a-bug cookbook, Ten Speed Press, p. 3, ISBN 978-0-89815-977-6
  13. ^ Navigating the Bible: Leviticus
  14. ^ Shi, Weibing; Xie, Shangxian; Chen, Xueyan; Sun, Su; Zhou, Xin; Liu, Lantao; Gao, Peng; Kyrpides, Nikos C.; No, En-Gyu (January 2013). "Comparative Genomic Analysis of the Endosymbionts of Herbivorous Insects Reveals Eco-Environmental Adaptations: Biotechnology Applications". PLoS Genetics. 9 (1): e1003131. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003131. PMC 3542064. PMID 23326236.

External links


The Acrididae are the predominant family of grasshoppers, comprising some 10,000 of the 11,000 species of the entire suborder Caelifera. The Acrididae are best known because all locusts (swarming grasshoppers) are of the Acrididae. The subfamily Oedipodinae is sometimes classified as a distinct family Oedipodidae in the superfamily Acridoidea. Acrididae grasshoppers are characterized by relatively short and stout antennae, and tympana on the side of the first abdominal segment.


Acrididea including the Acridomorpha is an infraorder of insects that best describe the grasshoppers (thus also locusts) or grasshopper-like families. It contains a large majority of species in the suborder Caelifera and the taxon Acridomorpha may also be used, which excludes the Tetrigoidea (ground-hoppers). Both names are derived from older texts, such as Imms, which placed the "short-horned grasshoppers" and locusts at the family level (Acrididae). The study of grasshopper species is called acridology.


Acridoidea is a superfamily of grasshoppers in the order Orthoptera with species found on every continent except Antarctica.


Anostostomatidae is a family of insects in the order Orthoptera, widely distributed in the southern hemisphere. It is named Mimnermidae or Henicidae in some taxonomies, and common names include king crickets in South Africa and weta in New Zealand (although not all weta are in Anostostomatidae). Prominent members include the Parktown prawn of South Africa, and the giant weta of New Zealand. The distribution of this family reflects a common ancestry before the fragmenting of Gondwana.


The Caelifera are a suborder of orthopteran insects. They include the grasshoppers and grasshopper-like insects, as well as other superfamilies classified with them: the ground-hoppers (Tetrigoidea) and pygmy mole crickets (Tridactyloidea). The latter should not be confused with the mole crickets (Gryllotalpidae), which belong to the other Orthopteran sub-order Ensifera.


Ensifera is a suborder of insects that includes the various types of crickets and their allies including: true crickets, camel crickets, bush crickets or katydids, grigs, wetas and Cooloola monsters. It and the suborder Caelifera (grasshoppers and their allies) make up the order Orthoptera. Ensifera is believed to be a more ancient group than Caelifera, with its origins in the Carboniferous period, the split having occurred at the end of the Permian period. Unlike the Caelifera, the Ensifera contain numerous members that are partially carnivorous, feeding on other insects as well as plants.

"Ensifer" is Latin for "sword bearer", and refers to the typically elongated and blade-like ovipositor of the females.


Gomphocerinae, the slant-faced grasshoppers, are a subfamily of grasshoppers found on every continent but Antarctica and Australia.


Grylloidea is the superfamily of insects, in the order Orthoptera, known as crickets. It includes the true crickets, scaly crickets and other families, some only known from fossils.

Grylloidea dates from the Triassic period and contains about 3,700 known living species in some 528 genera, as well as 43 extinct species and 27 extinct genera.

Henri Louis Frédéric de Saussure

Henri Louis Frédéric de Saussure (; French: [də sosyʁ]; 27 November 1829 – 20 February 1905) was a Swiss mineralogist and entomologist specialising in studies of Hymenoptera and Orthoptera. He also was a prolific taxonomist.

Jean Guillaume Audinet-Serville

Jean Guillaume Audinet-Serville (his name, before the Revolution, included a particle: Audinet de Serville) was a French entomologist, born on 11 November 1775 in Paris. He died on 27 March 1858 in La Ferté-sous-Jouarre.

He was introduced to entomology by Madame de Grostête-Tigny who was fascinated, like her husband, by chemistry and insects. Through her, Audinet-Serville met Pierre André Latreille (1762-1833). Latreille worked with him on the Dictionnaire des Insectes de l’Encyclopédie méthodique ("The Methodical Encyclopedia Dictionary of Insects"). Then, working with Guillaume-Antoine Olivier (1756-1814), he finished the book Faune française ("French Fauna") in 1830.

Audinet-Serville is particularly known for his work on the Orthoptera. He published, Revue méthodique de l’ordre des Orthoptères ("Methodical Review of the Order of Orthoptera") which appeared in Annales des sciences naturelles in 1831. Then, in 1839, in the series of works entitled les Suites à Buffon, a volume on the same order, Histoire naturelle des Insectes Orthoptères ("Natural History of Orthoptera Insects").

He was a friend of Charles Jean-Baptiste Amyot and wrote with him Histoire naturelle des insectes Hemipteres ("Natural History of Hemiptera Insects"). Paris, Libraire Encyclopedique de Roret: 1-675 (1843). and with Amédée Louis Michel le Peletier, comte de Saint-Fargeau he contributed a treatise on Hemiptera to Guillaume-Antoine Olivier's Histoire naturelle. Entomologie, ou histoire naturelle des Crustacés, des Arachnides et des Insectes (Encyclopédie Méthodique)


The Melanoplinae are a subfamily of grasshoppers in the family Acrididae. They are distributed across the Holarctic and Neotropic ecozones.This is one of the two largest subfamilies in the Acrididae. As of 2001 the Melanoplinae contained over 800 species in over 100 genera, and more species are being described continually.

The genera of the Melanoplinae are classified in 7 tribes, including Conalcaeini, Dactylotini, Dichroplini, Jivarini, Melanoplini, Podismini, and Prumnini.

Migratory locust

The migratory locust (Locusta migratoria) is the most widespread locust species, and the only species in the genus Locusta. It occurs throughout Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. It used to be common in Europe but has now become rare there. Because of the vast geographic area it occupies, which comprises many different ecological zones, numerous subspecies have been described. However, not all experts agree on the validity of some of these subspecies.

Many other species of grasshopper with gregarious and possibly migratory behaviour are referred to as 'locusts' in the vernacular, including the widely distributed desert locust.

At 6.5 Gbp, the migratory locust possesses the largest known insect genome.


The Orthopterida is a superorder of the Polyneoptera that represents the extant orders Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids), and Phasmatodea (stick insects and leaf insects). The Orthopterida also includes the extinct orders Titanoptera and Caloneurodea. There is general consensus of monophyly in this superorder, based on reduction of the second valvulae, an ovipositor derived from the gonoplac, and an enlarged precostal region on the forewing.

The two other superorders of the Polyneoptera are the Plecopterida, which represents the orders Plecoptera (stoneflies), Emboidea (Embioptera/Embiidina; webspinners), and Zoraptera (angel insects), and the Dictyoptera, which represents Blattodea (cockroaches & termites), and Mantodea (mantids). Two other orders, the Notoptera (ice-crawlers and gladiators) and Dermaptera (earwigs) are also placed in the Polyneoptera but outside the superorders discussed above.


The cohort Polyneoptera is probably the most appropriate taxonomic ranking for commonly-used terms such as Orthopteroid insects: namely the orders similar to the Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, etc.). They are all winged insects (Pterygota), derived from ancestors that evolved to fold their wings (Neoptera) and possess biting mouthparts, but undergo little or no metamorphosis.


Pyrgomorphidae is a family of grasshoppers in the order Orthoptera; it is the only family in the superfamily Pyrgomorphoidea, with a pan-tropical distribution. Their name is probably derived from pyrgos (Greek: Πύργος) meaning "tower": a reference to the form (morph) of the head in the type genus Pyrgomorpha and other genera.

They may sometimes be known as "gaudy grasshoppers", due to the striking, often aposematic colouration of a number of genera; however many others are camouflaged or cryptic, including the genus Pyrgomorpha.


The orthopteran family Rhaphidophoridae of the suborder Ensifera has a worldwide distribution. Common names for these insects include the cave weta, cave crickets, camelback crickets, camel crickets, spider crickets (sometimes shortened to "criders", or "land shrimp" or "sprickets") and sand treaders. Those occurring in New Zealand, Australia, and Tasmania are typically referred to as jumping or cave weta. Most are found in forest environments or within caves, animal burrows, cellars, under stones, in wood or in similar environments. All species are flightless and nocturnal, usually with long antennae and legs. There are more than 1100 species of Rhaphidophoridae described.The well-known field crickets are from a different superfamily (Grylloidea) and only look vaguely similar, while members of the family Tettigoniidae may look superficially similar in body form.


Insects in the family Tettigoniidae are commonly called katydids (in Australia, South Africa, the United States), or bush crickets. They have previously been known as long-horned grasshoppers. More than 6,400 species are known. Part of the suborder Ensifera, the Tettigoniidae are the only extant (living) family in the superfamily Tettigonioidea.

They are primarily nocturnal in habit with strident mating calls. Many katydids exhibit mimicry and camouflage, commonly with shapes and colors similar to leaves.


Tettigoniidea is an infraorder of the order Orthoptera, with six extant families.


The subfamily Tettigoniinae, sometimes called shield-backed katydids, contains hundreds of species, which are native to the Americas, Australia, southern Africa, Europe (especially Mediterranean), and the Near East. The faunas of the Neotropics and Australia are more closely related to one other than to those of southern Africa, although the three groups are related. They are attributed to an ancient Gondwana fauna which is reflected in the known distribution of the southern African genera, which are in turn related to the North American genera Neduba and Aglaothorax. Many of the common northern European species (e.g. in the genera Tettigonia, Metrioptera and Platycleis) are in this subfamily.

Insect orders
Extant Orthoptera families


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