Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Order Orthoptera - Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids

Sizeable Grasshopper - Schistocerca nitens - female Pallid toothpick grasshopper - Paropomala pallida - male - female grasshopper - Melanoplus bruneri - female Cricket? - Gryllus pennsylvanicus - male Cricket - Gryllus - female Melanoplus mancus - male Chortophaga viridifasciata - male Spharagemon marmoratum - female
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
The treatment here follows primarily (1)
In this and related orders, some authors tend to elevate categories such as tribes, subfamilies, etc. to higher ranks, while others do the opposite or remain more conservative. This has lead to an ongoing, often very confusing, inconsistency and instability in the literature.
Explanation of Names
Greek orthos (straight) + pteron (wing)
>1,200 species in 256 genera in our area(2); over 20,000 spp. total
hind legs long, modified for jumping
forewings (tegmina) hardened, leathery, spread in flight, covering membranous hindwings at rest
cerci (appendages at tip of abdomen) unsegmented
pronotum usually with large descending lobes on sides
hind coxae small and well-separated
hind tibiae with two dorsal rows of teeth

For an introduction to what images are most helpful to ensure an identification, see this article.
worldwide except very cold regions; most diverse in warmer climates
Life Cycle
Metamorphosis gradual (paurometabolous); nymphs resemble adults, typically develop external wing buds, and live in the same habitat as adults, typically taking the same food.
In most crickets and katydids, the female mounts the male for mating -- apparently the primitive (original) behavior in Orthoptera. Short-horned Grasshoppers (Acrididae) have a contorted mating posture with the male mounting the female, but the abdomen twisted strangely.(3)

Crickets can have 5-11 instars.(4)
Like other orders, many orthopterans generally exhibit a green-brown polymorphism, tending to be green at wetter times of the year and brown at the drier parts. They may be genetically determined but short-term single life time changes to color in response to the environment, known as homochromy, can be superimposed on the genotype. This means such a polymorphic insect can reside in a relatively drier vegetative community during the wet season and turn brownish from a greener general color after about a week or so.
Print References
Tinkham ER. 1948. Faunistic and ecological studies on the Orthoptera of the Big Bend Region of Trans-Pecos Texas with especial reference to the orthopteran zones and faunae of Midwestern North America. Am Midl Nat 40: 521-663.
The grasshoppers and other Orthoptera of Iowa. Richard C. Froeschner
Works Cited
1.Orthoptera Species File Online
2.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
3.Field Guide To Grasshoppers, Katydids, And Crickets Of The United States
John L. Capinera, Ralph D. Scott, Thomas J. Walker. 2004. Cornell University Press.
4.The Insects : Structure and Function
R. F. Chapman. 1998. Cambridge University Press.
5.Synopsis of Orthoptera (sensu lato) of Alabama
Matt E. Dakin, Jr., and Kirby L. Hays. 1970. Auburn University Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin, No. 404.
6.Orthoptera of North-Eastern America
W. S. Blatchley. 1920. The Nature Publishing Company.
7.The grasshoppers, crickets, and related insects of Canada and adjacent regions: Ulonata, Dermaptera, Cheleutoptera, Notoptera, D
V. R. Vickery. 1986. Canadian Government Publishing Center.
8.Insects of North Carolina
C.S. Brimley. 1938. North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
9.Orthoptera of Michigan
Roger Bland. 2003. Michigan State University Extension.