Grasshoppers experience incomplete metamorphosis, with three life cycle stages – egg, nymph, and adult. A grasshopper egg hatches into a nymph, which resembles an adult grasshopper, except that it is smaller and lacks wings and reproductive organs. Because of its hard outer exoskeleton, a growing grasshopper has to shed its skin periodically to accommodate its increased size. (A larger exoskeleton develops beneath the old, smaller one that is shed.) Grasshopper nymphs molt several times (each stage between molts is referred to as an instar) before they reach their adult size, and with each molt, their “wing buds” get larger. After the final molt, the wings are inflated and become fully functional. Wings play an important part in grasshopper courtship, as males “sing” to attract females by rapidly rasping their leg against their forewing, a process called stridulation.
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