Florida has about 60 species of grasshoppers, and the easter lubber grasshopper will grow up to be Florida’s largest grasshopper, at over 3 inches long when fully grown. Grasshoppers undergo simple metamorphosis and young grasshoppers have to molt, shedding their tough exoskeletons as they grow. Most grasshoppers go through 5-6 growth stages, or instars, before they reach their adult size.
Adult eastern lubber grasshoppers are known for their large size and beautiful colors, often being a blend of yellows, oranges, and pink tones. Due to their size and interesting color combo, they can be easily spotted walking or climbing in your backyard. These large grasshoppers have wings but don’t fly! So why go to the trouble of growing a wing, right? Well, both male and female grasshoppers will rub their legs against their wings to stridulate, or to make beautiful grasshopper music. Each species makes a unique sound, or it’s own ‘song’ so you might try your luck at identifying grasshoppers by song!
Grasshoppers also use those strong legs for jumping (although the eastern lubber isn’t a great jumper) and the design of their legs is suited for high energy jumping. The jump to escape hungry predators or simply just to quickly move to a new location. As I bet you guessed, jump performance varies by species and if the grasshopper is male or female. In a study of 4 different grasshopper species, the average jump distance proved to be about 82.29 centimeters (cm). So, how does that compare to their body length? Well, these grasshoppers measured about 2.90 cm on average. If you take the jump length and divide by body length, you see these grasshoppers jumped over 30 times their body length!! That’s darn impressive! Just so you know, the world record for a human long jump is 8.95 meters and is held by Mike Powell, who stands about 1.88 meters tall. Mike Powell proved he can jump 4.76 times the length of his body! Good for Mike but that’s nowhere near how far a grasshopper can leap!
How do you stack up against a grasshopper at jumping? Check out the activity below to test your skills!
For the younger crowd:
For viewers 8+:
Standing Long Jump
Mark an area about 10 ft long with chalk or even painter’s tape.
Print or hand draw a datasheet using the guide below.
Get READY! Have the jumper stand along the start line and jump as far as they can. Measure how far they jumped in centimeters.Try to repeat this at least a few times.
Grasshoppers can jump 30 times its body length! Measure the children's height and determine how many of their body length they jumped.
How far would 30 of their body lengths be?
Who jumped further compared to body height, the children or the grasshopper?
Ask students to speculate why insects can jump several times their own body weight and humans can not?
Get silly! What would human legs look like if we were as good at jumping as a grasshopper? Sketch your human design and post it to ELC’s FaceBook page!
Dig a Little Deeper:
Interested to read more about grasshoppers? Check out these resources below: