Exploring the Grasshopper Life Cycle: Key Stages and Facts

folder_openInsecta, Orthoptera
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Grasshoppers are fascinating insects known for their incredible jumping abilities and crucial role in their ecosystems. The life cycle of a grasshopper is quite intriguing, as it goes through several stages before developing into a fully-grown adult.

The grasshopper life cycle starts with the deposition of eggs in soil, usually ½ to 2 inches below the surface, in pod-like structures containing 20 to 120 elongated eggs. These eggs then hatch into nymphs, which look similar to adult grasshoppers but lack wings and are smaller in size. As these nymphs grow, they shed their skin several times, eventually developing wings and reaching adulthood.

Different grasshopper species may have slightly varying life cycles, with some species even having a two-year life cycle instead of the usual one-year cycle. The seasonal timing of egg hatch, nymphal growth, and adult emergence can also show variations among species. It’s essential to understand these unique life cycles to better manage grasshopper populations in different habitats.

Grasshopper Life Cycle Overview

Grasshoppers go through three key stages in their life cycle: the egg, nymph, and adult stages. Each stage has unique characteristics and plays an important role in the development of these insects.

Egg Stage

During the egg stage, grasshopper eggs are laid in the soil. Some facts about this stage include:

  • Grasshoppers lay their eggs in clusters, called pods.
  • Each pod contains several eggs.
  • Depending on the species, grasshopper eggs can take weeks to months to hatch.

Nymph Stage

Once the eggs hatch, the nymph stage begins. Some features of this stage are:

  • Nymphs resemble small, wingless adults.
  • They undergo a process called molting, where they shed their exoskeleton to grow.
  • Nymphs usually go through five molts before becoming adults.

Adult Stage

In the adult stage, grasshoppers are fully developed insects. The main characteristics of this stage include:

  • Adults have fully developed wings.
  • They can now fly and mate.
  • Adult grasshoppers can reach varying body sizes, depending on the species.

In summary, the grasshopper life cycle consists of three stages: egg, nymph, and adult. Each stage plays a crucial role in the development and growth of these insects.

Reproduction and Mating

Male Grasshopper

Male grasshoppers reach sexual maturity and become capable of mating once their wings are fully developed. The male’s reproductive organ, located at the tip of its abdomen, produces a fluid containing sperm called a spermatophore. Mating begins with the male grasping the female and depositing this spermatophore into her reproductive organs.

Key features of male grasshoppers:

  • Fully developed wings indicate sexual maturity
  • Produce spermatophore for fertilization

Female Grasshopper

Female grasshoppers develop fully functional reproductive organs as they mature. These organs are responsible for producing eggs which will be fertilized by the male’s spermatophore during mating. After fertilization, the female grasshopper lays her fertilized eggs in a pod below the soil surface, containing anywhere from 20 to 120 eggs depending on the species.

Key features of female grasshoppers:

  • Develop reproductive organs for egg production
  • Lay fertilized eggs in pods below the soil surface


Fertilization occurs when the male’s spermatophore is transferred to the female’s reproductive organs during mating. This process ensures the successful blending of genetic information from both the male and female grasshoppers, creating a new generation of grasshoppers with varied traits and characteristics.

Comparison table:

Feature Male Grasshopper Female Grasshopper
Reproductive organ Located at abdomen tip Produces eggs
Mating indication Fully developed wings Functional reproductive organs
Role during fertilization Transfers spermatophore Receives spermatophore and lays eggs

In grasshoppers, the process of mating and fertilization is essential to ensure the continuation of their species. By reproducing sexually, grasshoppers promote genetic diversity within their populations, ultimately equipping them to adapt to environmental changes and to better survive as a species.

Physical Features and Anatomy


Grasshoppers have two pairs of wings with different shapes and functions.

  • Tegmina: The front pair is leathery, narrow, and with parallel sides to provide protection.
  • Hind wings: The back pair is membranous, fan-shaped, and contributes 3 times more to the flight than tegmina.


These insects have three pairs of legs:

  • Front legs: Used for walking and holding food.
  • Middle legs: Aid in walking and balancing.
  • Hind legs: Designed for jumping, providing propulsion.

Color and Camouflage

Grasshoppers exhibit a range of colors and camouflage patterns. Some examples include:

  • Bright colors: Warn predators of toxicity or bad taste.
  • Green or brown: Blend with their environment, making it difficult for predators to spot them.

Growth and Development

Incomplete Metamorphosis

Grasshoppers undergo an incomplete metamorphosis during their life cycle. This process consists of three stages:

  • Eggs
  • Nymphs
  • Adults

Grasshoppers, unlike some insects like butterflies and moths, lack a pupal stage. The nymphs resemble small versions of adult grasshoppers, but without functional wings.

Comparison Table:

Incomplete Metamorphosis Complete Metamorphosis
Three stages: egg, nymph, adult Four stages: egg, larva, pupa, adult
Nymphs resemble adults Larvae and adults have different appearances
No pupal stage Pupa is the resting stage


During their growth and development, grasshoppers molt several times, each time progressing to a new nymphal stage.

  • The wing pads gradually develop, becoming larger with each molt.
  • By the final molt, the grasshopper reaches its adult form, acquiring functional wings and becoming capable of reproduction.

Moulting is a crucial step in the development of both nymphs and adult grasshoppers. It allows the insect to grow and mature at each stage of its life cycle.


  • Allows grasshoppers to grow and develop
  • Facilitates the development of functional wings


  • A vulnerable period as the exoskeleton is shed
  • Requires sufficient food resources for energy and growth

Feeding and Diet

Herbivorous Behavior

Grasshoppers are primarily herbivores, meaning they consume various plant materials. They have strong mandibles, which help them chew through leaves, stems, and other plant parts.

Some examples of plants they eat include:

  • Grasses
  • Shrubs
  • Leaves from trees

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • Wide range of plant food sources
  • Contributes to natural ecosystem balance


  • Can result in crop damage

Omnivorous Option

Although rare, some grasshopper species exhibit omnivorous behavior and may consume other insects or dead animal matter.


  • Oxya yezoensis
  • Taeniopoda eques

Comparison Table

Aspect Herbivorous Grasshoppers Omnivorous Grasshoppers
Food sources Primarily plants Plants and insects
Mandible strength Strong Strong
Ecosystem impact Crop damage Less crop damage

Habitat and Environment

Grasshopper Species Distribution

Grasshoppers can be found in various habitats, such as forests, grasslands, and agricultural fields. They show a diverse distribution, with over 100 species in Colorado and about 70 species in Wyoming.

Some factors that influence grasshopper distribution include:

  • Season: They typically hatch in spring and thrive during summer.
  • Weather: Favorable weather conditions like warm temperatures promote their growth.
  • Habitats: They prefer areas with abundant vegetation for food and cover.

Impact on Ecosystem

Grasshoppers play a vital role in the ecosystem. They serve as:

  • Food source: Birds, rodents, and other insects rely on them for nourishment.
  • Decomposers: By consuming plants, they help break down organic matter.

However, grasshoppers may also have negative impacts on the ecosystem:

  • Agricultural pests: In large numbers, they can cause significant damage to crops.
  • Competition: They compete with other herbivores for food sources.
Comparison Positive Impacts Negative Impacts
Ecosystem Role Food source, decomposers Agricultural pests, competition

In conclusion, grasshoppers are essential components of their ecosystem, but they may also cause problems when their numbers become too high. Their habitat and environment influence their distribution and the roles they play in the larger ecosystem.

Predators and Natural Enemies

Birds and Lizards

Birds and lizards are important natural enemies of grasshoppers and locusts in their ecosystem. They are known for their ability to help control and reduce grasshopper populations.

  • Examples: Robins, hawks, and whiptail lizards
  • Pros: Highly efficient at prey capture, actively hunt grasshoppers
  • Cons: May not be present in all habitats, numbers fluctuate depending on other factors

Rodents and Wasps

Rodents and wasps are also significant predators and natural enemies of grasshoppers.


Some rodents, such as mice and ground squirrels, are known to eat grasshopper eggs and young nymphs, reducing their populations in the process.

  • Examples: Deer mice, ground squirrels
  • Pros: Can find and consume large numbers of grasshopper eggs in a short period
  • Cons: May also consume beneficial insects, not as efficient in controlling adult grasshoppers


Parasitic wasps lay their eggs in grasshopper eggs or nymphs, eventually killing them as the larvae feed on their hosts.

  • Examples: Scelio wasps, Sphecidae wasps
  • Pros: Highly specialized, can reduce grasshopper populations over time
  • Cons: May take time to establish in the ecosystem, can be susceptible to insecticides
Predator Pros Cons
Birds Highly efficient, active hunters May not be present in all habitats
Lizards Actively hunt grasshoppers Numbers fluctuate depending on factors
Rodents Consume large numbers of eggs May consume beneficial insects
Wasps Specialized, long-term control Susceptible to insecticides

Pest Management and Control

Crop Damage

Grasshoppers can cause significant crop damage, especially when they form swarms. Farmers often struggle to protect their crop yield from these pests. Here are a few examples of crop damage caused by grasshoppers:

  • Defoliation: Grasshoppers consume leaves, affecting plant growth and photosynthesis.
  • Crop loss: In severe infestations, they can destroy entire fields, resulting in reduced yield.


There are several insecticides available to control grasshopper populations. Some popular examples include:

  • Pyrethroids: Effective against grasshoppers, but may flare mite populations. One exception is bifenthrin, which also controls spider mites.
  • Organophosphates: Another mode of action for grasshopper control.
Insecticide Type Pros Cons
Pyrethroids Effective against grasshoppers May flare mite populations
Organophosphates Broad range of insect control Toxic to humans and wildlife


Farmers can choose alternative methods to manage grasshoppers in an environmentally friendly manner. Some alternatives include:

  • Neem Oil: A natural insecticide derived from neem tree seeds.
  • Biological Control: Using natural predators, such as birds or parasitic wasps, to control grasshopper populations.
  • Cultural Practices: Implementing crop rotation or creating barriers to prevent grasshoppers from entering crop fields.

Here are some characteristics of neem as an alternative insecticide:

  • Biodegradable
  • Low toxicity to non-target organisms
  • Acts as a feeding deterrent for grasshoppers

In conclusion, various methods are available for controlling grasshopper populations and reducing crop damage. Farmers should consider the benefits and drawbacks of each option to select the most appropriate method for their specific situation.

Interesting Facts and Behaviors

Grasshoppers Singing

Grasshoppers are fascinating creatures, known for their unique ability to “sing.” They produce sound by rubbing their hind legs against their wings. This method of sound production is called stridulation.

  • Stridulating organ: located on the hind legs
  • Purpose: attracting mates and communication

Grasshopper songs vary depending on the species. Some of the key reasons grasshoppers sing include:

  • Mating calls
  • Territorial claims
  • Warning signals

Various Grasshopper Species

Grasshoppers belong to the order Orthoptera and suborder Caelifera. The family Acrididae is the largest, containing numerous species. Here are two common grasshopper species:

  1. Lubber Grasshopper
    • Size: large and slow-moving
    • Range: southeastern United States
    • Diet: plants, especially leaves
    • Appearance: colorful and sometimes wingless
  2. Migratory Grasshopper
    • Size: smaller and faster than lubber
    • Range: throughout North America
    • Diet: plants and crops
    • Appearance: brown or gray, with wings
Feature Lubber Grasshopper Migratory Grasshopper
Size Large Smaller
Range Southeast US North America
Diet Plants, leaves Plants, crops
Appearance Colorful Brown/gray
Wing presence Sometimes wingless Winged

Various grasshopper species have unique characteristics, like different body sizes, colors, and diets. Understanding these species can help with identification and appreciation of their fascinating behaviors.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Mating Flightless Grasshoppers in Patagonia


Subject:  Mating Patagonian Grasshoppers
Geographic location of the bug:  Argentine Patagonia
Date: 09/11/2017
Time: 02:52 PM EDT
This happy couple were photographed at the Upsala Glacier in the far south of Argentine Patagonia in December. Any idea what species?
How you want your letter signed:  Martin

Mating Flightless Grasshoppers

Dear Martin,
Your image of mating flightless Grasshoppers is gorgeous, and it is shot from the perfect angle to illustrate the activity.  We found a matching image on TravelBlog, but it is only identified as a Giant Flightless Alpine Grasshopper.  We will have to post this as unidentified and get back to it later.

Letter 2 – Mating Gaudy Grasshoppers in South Africa


South-African Grasshopper
June 10, 2009
I saw many of these grasshoppers in this part of South-Africa. I really wonder what type it is and why this species if flourishing?
Tsjisjikamma National Park, Plettenburg Bay, South-Africa

Mating Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers
Mating Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers

Dear David,
These are mating Gaudy Grasshoppers, or Toxic Milkweed Grasshoppers, or Bush Locusts in the family Pyrgomorphidae.  We believe your species is Phymateus leprosus.  One of the reasons this species is flourishing is that it is poisonous, and not many predators will touch it.

Letter 3 – Mating Grasshoppers from Costa Rica


Subject: Identify Grasshoppers
Location: Costa Rica cloud forest
February 2, 2016 9:32 am
Can you identify the mating grasshoppers please? I have asked several ‘experts’ in Costa Rica where I took the photo without success.
Taken at 4500 feet in cloud forest at the Bosque de Paz private reserve, 1 1/2 hours drive from San Jose. It lies between the National Parks of Juan Castro Blanco and Volcan Poas.
Signature: Moira

Mating Grasshoppers
Mating Grasshoppers

Dear Moira,
We have not had any luck identifying what species you have documented.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide additional information.

Letter 4 – Mating Grasshoppers from Suriname


Subject: Mating Insects
Location: Marchall Kree, Suriname
November 15, 2013 2:59 pm
Hi Bugman, I took this picture back in 2002 while in Suriname volunteering with the Peace Corps. They were happy grasshoppers and quite docile.
Signature: Brian

Mating Grasshoppers
Mating Grasshoppers

Hi Brian,
We are posting your images, which we are guessing were shot on slide film and later digitized, however, we don’t have the time this morning to try to identify them more specifically.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to help classify them before we can attempt some research.

Mating Grasshoppers
Mating Grasshoppers

Letter 5 – Mating Grasshoppers from Tanzania: Pyrgomorphella albini


Subject: Grasshopper
Location: Serengeti, Tanzania
September 28, 2016 12:27 pm
Hi. I am glad I found your page while searching for African grasshoppers. I took the picture of the two grasshoppers last December in Tanzania/Serengeti ad I’d love to know the name of this species. Can you help me?
Signature: Sabine

Mating Grasshoppers
Mating Grasshoppers: Pyrgomorphella albini

Dear Sabine,
We spent a little time attempting unsuccessfully to identify your mating Grasshoppers, and because we want to make a few more postings this morning, we are going to post your image as Unidentified and try to get back to it later.  Maybe one of our readers will have more success than we have had.  We suspect these interesting Grasshoppers may be in the family Pyrgomorphidae.

Dear Daniel,
based on your information I kept on searching and found somebody who finally could identify the mating grasshoppers from Serengeti.
So I wanted to give you some feedback and send you the link to the page with detailed information:
By the way, I have ordered your book The curious world of bugs and like it very much.
Kind regards from Marburg, Germany
Sabine Peiseler

Dear Sabine,
Thanks so much for getting back to us with an identification of 
Pyrgomorphella albini from Orthoptera Species File.  We are happy to hear you are enjoying the book.

Letter 6 – Mating Leichardt's Grasshopper from Australia


Mating Leichardts Grasshopper ~ Rare
I sent in a big locust pic about 7 weeks ago and thought immediately of your site when I saw this amazing grasshopper on my trip to the Northern Territory of Australia. My boyfriend and I had a guide take us into the bush for the day and one of the spots was a restricted road to an old Uranium mine. According to her it’s one of the very few places you can see this grasshopper. Hope you like it.
Adrinna Hardy
P.S. The other pic is of a big dangerous plastic cockroach we left as a gift for the next person to find when they opened the box to get the parks information pamflets. hehehe

Hi Adrinna,
You are such a trickster. Thanks so much for the photo of Leichardt’s Grasshopper, and mating to perpetuate the species. We will do some web research on the species and provide an additional link. If we can figure out how to link to a pdf file, we will provide the only online information we could locate on Petasida ephippigera, a Northern Australian icon.

Letter 7 – Mating Spur Throated Grasshoppers: Barytettix humphreysii cochisei


More Bug Love
February 21, 2010
Hi, WTB,
Thanks for the nice words about the very recent Cactus Longhorn Beetle photo.
Seeking ID help, please, for this pair of grasshoppers from late September in the foothills of the Santa Rita Moutains in southern Arizona at about 4,400 ft.  These are plentiful from mid- to late summer.
Denny Schreffler

Mating Spur Throated Grasshoppers

Hi again Denny,
Another gorgeous photograph.  At first we thought these might be mating Lubber Grasshoppers in the family Romaleidae.  Many members of the family are large Grasshoppers with bright coloration and   BugGuide does not picture anything quite like your specimens, though the Plains Lubber Grasshopper, Brachystola magna, looks similar.  We wonder if perhaps it might be a species of Lubber Grasshopper that is mentioned on BugGuide, but not pictured, Spaniacris deserticola.  According to information we unearthed on the internet, it is found in Mexico and Arizona, but alas, we cannot find any photos.  Perhaps an expert will be able to provide us with additional information.  As we continued to try to identify this gorgeous pair, we found a website on the Studies in nearctic desert sand dune Orthoptera that contained this information:  “Four decades of the author’s records indicate that Spaniacris deserticola (Bruner) is confined within the periphery of the Colorado Desert. It is usually found, near or within a few hundred feet of sea level, marking the shore line of ancient Lake Cahuilla (except for the Dale Lake record). The preferred host plant is Coldenia palmeri growing on the lower fringes of bajadas, with C. plicata on drift sand being second in preference. Spaniacris can tolerate sand and rock temperatures of 60 C. (believed to be a maximum for Colorado Desert life). Mating takes place at that and lower temperatures. When they are disturbed while on the tops of host plants, their flight is low and direct and of short duration, and they come to rest on the torrid soil for long periods of time. The female, much larger than the male, can sustain the male in flight while mating. The study verified spatial longevity of Spaniacris at Indio, California, after approximately 70 years and for the Kane Springs area after 52 years.
”  That suggests that Spaniacris deserticola has developed wings, and that does not appear to be the case with your pair, which inclines us to believe that is not a correct identification.  We now believe they are probably Spur Throated Grasshoppers in the subfamily Melanoplinae which includes the gorgeous Painted Grasshopper that also has undeveloped wings in the adult for.  The bottom line on this is that we need professional assistance.

Eric Eaton writes back
Anyway, the pair of grasshoppers are Barytettix humphreysii cochisei, and the subspecies is in Bugguide already….They are in the spur-throated grasshopper subfamily Melanoplinae in the family Acrididae.  Neither gender has functional wings as adults.
More information, images here:
Thanks for giving me a sneak peek at this great image!

Letter 8 – Mating Lycaen Blues and Grasshopper in China


two photos – can you help me
Hi bugman
I enclose two photos that I took on the outskirts of Beijing in China. The two mainly white butterflies are not very large – between 1-2 inches I should think. The second picture I have called a chinese grasshopper for want of a better idea. It’s quite brightly coloured and from memory about 3-4 inches long. I hope you can help me by telling me what they are.
Thanks again
John Rocha

Hi John,
The mating butterflies are Gossamer Winged Butterflies, Lycaen Blues, though we do not know the species. The Grasshopper might be one of the Toothpick Grasshoppers.

Letter 9 – Mating Panther Spotted Grasshoppers


Subject: Grasshopper
Location: Aravaipa Canyon, Arizona
September 23, 2013 9:14 pm
Hello Bugman,
I found these two on the Aravaipa creek September 21st.
Could not find then in Kaufmans field guide to insects of NA.
Also looked on your many pages of grasshoppers with no luck.
Very beautiful. Hope you can help me.
Signature: Polly Choate

Mating Panther Spotted Grasshoppers
Mating Panther Spotted Grasshoppers

Hi Polly,
Your image of mating Panther Spotted Grasshoppers,
Poecilotettix pantherinus, is quite lovely.  You couldn’t find it in our archives because your photo is the first example of this beautiful grasshopper that we have posted.  Our quest to identify it brought us first to this artful composite photographic postcard of Arizona Grasshoppers.  We then found it identified on thehibbits.net and we confirmed the identification on BugGuide.  Alas, our quick search did not produce any specific information on the species, however, all the sightings on bugGuide Data page are confined to Arizona.  This is a wonderful addition to our Bug Love tag.

Letter 10 – Mating Post Oak Grasshoppers


Southeastern Lubber Love?
Location: rural Tennessee, edge of the Cumberland Plateau
June 26, 2011 3:41 pm
It’s been an active bug spring here on the Eastern Cumberland Plateau, and your website is my first resource for identifications. I saw these more colorful grasshoppers and haven’t quite matched them to previous posts, but think they must be Southeastern Lubbers. They are about 1 or 1-1/2 inch half long (female). Thanks for your tireless work for all us bug-watchers!
Signature: Bob Kieffer

Mating Post Oak Grasshoppers

Hi Bob,
Thanks for the compliment.  After considerable research, we believe we have correctly identified your short winged mating Grasshoppers as Post Oak Grasshoppers,
Dendrotettix quercus, based on images posted to BugGuide.  The Insect Physiology & Behavior Research Group website has a very comprehensive page devoted to Post Oak Grasshoppers, and it indicates that when they are especially numerous, they can defoliate oak trees.  You might want to notify the group of your sighting.

Post Oak Grasshopper

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for you research. I did contact the Insect Physiology group as you suggested, and they have confirmed the identification. They also were appreciative of the information on our sighting. Keep up the great work!

Letter 11 – Mediterranean Slant-Faced Grasshopper from Italy


Mediterranean Slant-Faced Grasshopper
Mediterranean Slant-Faced Grasshopper

Subject: Headless planthopper
Location: Perugia, Italy
October 20, 2014 6:32 am
This is my second encounter with this strange looking insect. The first one I saw, a week ago, appeared inside my house and was much greener than this one. It was damaged (a leg was missing), and I thought my cats had brought it in and beheaded it, however it was still walking. I took it outside into ‘safety’. So today I see another of these interesting looking hoppers, while the color is very different (the first one was leaf green with some brown around the ‘head’, which really made it look bitten off), the build is very similar. I know planthopper is not the right name for this one, but I’m unable to find anything more apt.
Signature: Roman Winter

Dear Roman,
We believe this is a Mediterranean Slant-Faced Grasshopper,
Acrida ungarica, and as you can see on the Linnea It website, it can be either brown or green.

It’s funny both examples on your website were observed in the same city! Thank you for identifying so quickly, i’ll try to observe more unusual insect life in the future, and if I have any doubts on what the identity might be I’ll be surely giving you a call!

Letter 12 – Mating Patagonian Grasshoppers: Bufonacris species


Subject:  Swarming Grasshoppers
Geographic location of the bug:  Argentine Patagonia
Date: 09/11/2017
Time: 02:41 PM EDT
We photographed these as part of a large swarm on the dry steppe at Rio Capitan in southern Argentine Patagonia in December. They seem to be flightless. Any idea which species?
How you want your letter signed:  Martin

Mating Grasshoppers

Hi again Martin,
One more time you have provided us with some gorgeous images of unusual Patagonian Grasshoppers that we cannot identify for you.  We have posted all your images and we hope we can eventually provide you with an identification.


Update:  Identification courtesy of Cesar Crash
Cesar Crash of Insetologia  has been kind enough to provide a comment with a link to an image of a member of the genus
Bufonacris that looks like a matching identification to us.

Many thanks Daniel & Cesar.
It looks pretty close. The two locations are about 800km apart, but the steppe habitat is very similar.


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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Tags: Grasshopper

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