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Orthoptera is an order of insects with paurometabolous or incomplete metamorphosis, including the grasshoppers, crickets, weta, and locusts. Many insects in this order produce sound (known as a "stridulation") by rubbing their wings against each other or their legs, the wings or legs containing rows of corrugated bumps. The tympanum or ear is located in the front tibia in crickets, mole crickets, and katydids, and on the first abdominal segment in the grasshoppers and locusts.[1] These organisms use vibrations to locate other individuals.

Grasshoppers are able to fold their wings, placing them in the group Neoptera.


The name is derived from the Greek ortho meaning straight and ptera meaning winged.


Orthopterans have a generally cylindrical body, with hind legs elongated for jumping. They have mandibulate mouthparts and large compound eyes, and may or may not have ocelli, depending on the species. The antennae have multiple joints, and are of variable length.[1]

The first and third segments of the thorax are enlarged, while the second segment is much shorter. They have two pairs of wings, which are held overlapping the abdomen at rest. The forewings, or tegmina, are narrower than the hindwings and hardened at the base, while the hind wing is membranous, with straight veins and numerous cross-veins. At rest, the hindwings are held folded fan-like under the forewings. The final two to three segments of the abdomen are reduced, and have single-segmented cerci.[1]

Life cycleEdit

Orthopteroid species have a paurometabolous life cycle or incomplete metamorphosis. The use of sound is generally crucial in courtship, and most species have distinct songs.[2] Most grasshoppers lay their eggs in the ground or on vegetation. The eggs hatch and the young nymphs resemble adults but lack wings and at this stage are often called hoppers. They may often also have a radically different coloration from the adults. Through successive moults the nymphs develop wings until their final moult into a mature adult with fully developed wings.[1]

The number of moults varies between species; growth is also very variable and may take a few weeks to some months depending on food availability and weather conditions.

Orthoptera as foodEdit

Orthopterans are the only insects considered kosher in Judaism. The list of dietary laws in the book of Leviticus forbids all flying insects that walk, but makes an exception for the locust.[3] The Torah states the only kosher flying insects with four walking legs have knees that extend above their feet so that they hop.[4] This suggests that non-jumping orthoptera such as mole crickets are not kosher.


The branching order of these animals is fairly well understood.[5] The suborders Caelifera and Ensifera appear to be monophyletic and Rhaphidophoridae is a sister group of Tettigoniidae. Pyrgomorphidae are the most basal group of Caelifera. Myrmecophilidae appear to form a clade with Gryllotalpidae instead of with Gryllidae. Additional work may be needed to confirm this.

Among the four subfamilies of Tettigoniidae the relationships are (Phaneropterinae + (Conocephalinae + (Bradyporinae + Tettigoniinae))); among six acridid subfamilies the relationships are (Oedipodinae + (Acridinae + (Gomphocerinae + (Oxyinae + (Calliptaminae + Cyrtacanthacridinae))))).

Classification Edit

There are 2 suborders and 235 subfamilies in this order.

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Hoell, H.V., Doyen, J.T. & Purcell, A.H. (1998). Introduction to Insect Biology and Diversity, 2nd ed., 392–394, Oxford University Press.
  2. Imes, Rick (1992), The practical entomologist, Simon and Schuster, pp. 74–75, ISBN 0-671-74695-2, 
  3. Gordon, David George (1998), The eat-a-bug cookbook, Ten Speed Press, pp. 3, ISBN 0-89815-977-6, 
  4. Navigating the Bible: Leviticus, 
  5. Zhou Z, Ye H, Huang Y, Shi F. (2010) The phylogeny of Orthoptera inferred from mtDNA and description of Elimaea cheni (Tettigoniidae: Phaneropterinae) mitogenome. J. Genet. Genomics. 37(5):315-324

External links Edit

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