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Grasshopper Wings Growing

7-21-16  grasshopper wings 092Grasshoppers 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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7 responses

  1. Laurie Spry

    Such a common insect, and I never knew/noticed that! Thanks, Mary.

    July 25, 2016 at 7:51 am

  2. Thea Lahti

    Interesting. How do their wings “inflate”? Anyone know?

    July 25, 2016 at 8:13 am

    • They pump air into their bodies which forces fluid into the wing veins.

      July 25, 2016 at 8:57 am

  3. Marilyn


    July 25, 2016 at 9:02 am

  4. So cool – I love this photo (as always)!

    July 25, 2016 at 9:43 am

  5. I feel so grasshopper informed. Thanks

    July 25, 2016 at 10:11 am

  6. It’s wonderful to see the amazing macro detail — it brings the whole world of “small” into focus. 🙂

    July 25, 2016 at 12:07 pm

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