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Outstanding Orthoptera

Outstanding Orthoptera

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Orthoptera may mean straight (orthos) and wing (pteron), but it seems these insects are best known for their long back legs and extreme jumping ability. Which insects do you think of when someone mentions powerful insect jumpers? Probably grasshoppers “spring” to mind (pun intended). Grasshoppers do belong to the order orthoptera, and they make up the group caelifera. Their relatives, crickets and katydids, also belong to this order and make up the group ensifera. There are believed to be more than 20,000 species of orthopterans. They all share some similarities like the large back legs we mentioned earlier, but they also usually have two pairs of wings with the front wings being small and leathery and the back wings lighter, larger, and shaped like fans to help them fly or glide. Often these insects can make noises like chirping or clicking sounds. They have chewing mouthparts and a diet that includes mostly plant material. Orthopterans can be found in many different habitats (even water) on all continents with the exception of Antarctica. Let’s learn a little bit about each group by collecting samples to observe.