Grasshopper Sex

Today was Yard Waste Drop-off Day. As I was moving some bags of yard waste into the back of the van,  I stumbled on these two grasshoppers when I lifted up the last bag.

Grasshopper Silhouette

The last thing you expect to find on a hot asphalt driveway is two grasshoppers enjoying a little Monday afternoon delight… but that’s what happened. Grasshopper Sex. Right on the driveway for all to see.

I urged the kids to suspend their basketball game. Partly out of respect for the grasshoppers, partly to seize the chance to educate them about grasshoppers.

After I took that first photo (with my iPhone), they hopped over to a nearby rock – never breaking position. Can you find them in the photo below?

Wheres Waldo Grasshopper

Grasshoppers are in the order Orthoptera which also includes Locusts, Crickets and Katydids.

Turns out, these guys have an incredible ability to identify their mates. They sing to each other – stridulation -and basically dance around to get each other’s attention.

Apparently the males can have 400 mating songs to entice females. This behavior of wooing a mate via serenade is a defining characteristic for this group of insects.

Kristy Ambrose wrote an article on grasshoppers for eHow. She wrote that, “As a species, grasshoppers have many interesting and unusual habits. Many of these are used as part of the courtship ritual, to find and keep a mate. Grasshopper mating habits are as comical and varied as the species itself. Each has its own way of attracting and keeping a mate for the brief but torrid grasshopper mating season.

Here’s a vido featuring a male grasshopper singing to get the attention of females.  I think you’ll agree – it’s a familiar sound:

 

Grasshopper mating can last from about an hour to well over a day. So, nothing was going to break up this party – not even a crazy gardener taking pictures with her iPhone.

Grasshopper Sex 3

Btw, the females are bigger than the males. But, the males are brighter and prettier (to me). I love the markings on their legs. 

Nature’s designs are so inspiring – these would make for a cool tattoo or henna design…

Grasshopper Sex 2

The male grasshopper is the one on top. And, as much fun as he is having now, I feel bad for him. Entomologists know he will die almost immediately after mating.

The lady grasshoppers live just long enough to lay their eggs (usually 8 – 25 eggs in a clutch).  

On the biokids blog at the University of Michigan, they review the fascinating grasshopper egg laying process:

When they [the eggs] are ready, she pushes her abdomen down in the ground and makes a layer of foam. Then she lays the eggs. When the foam dries it forms a tough and waterproof eggpod, and protects the eggs until they hatch. They hatchlings climb up through the foam and out into the world. If they have enough food, and live long enough, each female can produce several egg pods before she dies.

Grasshopper SexSo, there you have it. Some scentillating grasshopper images, along with a little grasshopper debrief.

What’s that? Not enough you say?! You want a joke, too?

So this grasshopper walks into a bar.

The bartender says to him, “Hey, do you know we have a drink named after you?

The grasshopper says, “You have a drink named Ant?!?

[tweet this].

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

 

Still growing...




Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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6 Comments

  1. The Engineer on September 19, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Well done. Truly enjoyed it.

  2. Jane on September 19, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    I enjoyed your post! I photographed a pair of grasshoppers this afternoon, and appreciated finding someone who also revels in the beauty and magnificence of nature! Fascinating, isn’t it?

  3. Lotus on April 23, 2016 at 6:17 am

    Wow ! I have captured 2 grasshoppers today like you did 😀 I was searching for information about what was happening and your post really helped me. i was wondering what were those black thing that the female made and now I understand they are babies *_*

    • Jennifer Ebeling on April 30, 2016 at 8:34 pm

      Yep – there always something new to discover in the garden. It’s an endless gift to us.

  4. Cell on January 31, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    I have captured this enticing moment too just now, and I was searching for information about it. The article was really helpful and I enjoyed it! Thank you.

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