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Grasshoppers Courting, Mating & Laying Eggs

8-20-14 mating grasshoppers 040It’s that time of year again, when grasshoppers are courting, mating and laying eggs that will overwinter and hatch next spring. In addition to adopting different poses and flashing brightly-colored wings, male grasshoppers attract females by producing calling songs. (Some females also produce sounds, but they are usually infrequent and very soft.) The males rub their hind femur against a forewing, or rub a forewing against a hind wing in order to make their calls, a process called stridulation. Tympana, or eardrum-like structures on their abdomen, allow both male and female grasshoppers to hear. Because the songs are species-specific, females can readily identify males of the same species.

After pairing up, the smaller male grasshopper usually mounts the female and the female curls her abdomen up to reach the male’s reproductive organ (aedeagus) from which she receives a package of sperm called a spermatophore. The mating process can take from 45 minutes to more than a day, depending on the species. The small, pointed structures that you see at the tip of the female’s abdomen are her ovipositors, with which she deposits her eggs in the ground.

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5 responses

  1. An excellent capture, Mary.

    August 21, 2014 at 1:42 pm

  2. I think grasshoppers are the coolest looking critters – those chevron patterns on their legs look like embossed metal.

    August 22, 2014 at 2:04 am

  3. I’m just curious, what if they will sense danger. That’s just a bad way to stop the love. HAHAHA. Great capture anyway.

    -Ray

    August 23, 2014 at 7:43 am

  4. joan waltermire

    Hi Mary, I wonder if my observation is correct that at this time of year the (presumed males?) do a courtship flight too. Up in the air hovering, and with a wingbeat frequency that produces a sound quite different from that of an ordinary flying grasshopper — did you come across anything like that in your research?
    Joan

    August 24, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    • Hi Joan, I read that there is a different kind of sound production called “crepitation.” I don’t know if it’s just given by males or not, but it just applies to band-winged grasshoppers and it’s given in flight. It’s basically wing-snapping, often accompanied by wing flashing. The sound is made when the membranes between large veins in the hind wings are suddenly popped taut. Does this sound like what you’ve heard? How observant of you!

      August 25, 2014 at 2:53 pm

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