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Common Field Grasshopper

The Common Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus) is the one of the grasshoppers that you are most likely to see throughout the UK as it is can be found in dry grassy areas, meadows, fields, parks, roadsides and even on waste land. They vary in colour; some can be green, some grey, some brown and some are even a purplish colour. Despite their individual colours they all have something in common; they all have light vertical stripes running down the length of the body and darker markings too. They also have a hairy belly unlike most other grasshoppers.

One would think with the name ‘grasshopper’ that this insect hops a lot. Actually it doesn’t hop very often at all, but it will hop when it is disturbed and when it does, it is capable of hopping over one metre. That is a long distance for this grasshopper seeing that it is only two centimetres long! It uses its strong hind legs to hop and it does this by quickly extending its powerful legs which literally throw the grasshopper forward and upward at an amazing speed. It is spectacular sight to see if you are lucky enough to witness it.

The Common Field Grasshopper is not only a strong hopper but a strong flier too and can be seen flying around in warm weather sometimes. However, if it is very hot and the sun is shining it is not uncommon to see one sunbathing on walls, on a bare piece of ground and on pathways. More often than not you can hear grasshoppers before you can see them. They make a short sequence of chirping sounds and these sounds are created by the grasshopper running its hind legs against its forewings.

When male field grasshoppers want to attract a female they often chirp at one another, with each male taking its turn. This is almost like a rivalry song with each male trying to beat the other in the hope that a female will notice him. If a male finds a female his song changes to a ‘ticking’ sound and this is most probably to let the other males know that he has succeeded in finding a mate.

During the summer months, a female field grasshopper lays a large egg pod containing approximately fifteen eggs. The egg pod is buried just below the surface of dry ground and sometimes in ant hills. The protective case keeps the eggs safe over winter and until spring when the young hatch out. The young, called nymphs, shed their skins about three to four times before they eventually become fully grown adults, just like their parents.

Photo Credit: © Copyright Steve Falk

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