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Do Grasshoppers Swarm Often?

August 7th, 2017

Do Grasshoppers Swarm Often?

We have all heard of locust swarms, bee swarms, and even termite swarms, but how about grasshoppers swarms? If we do encounter grasshoppers, then it is probably because we catch them hopping into the air, but never flying. Many people are not even aware that some grasshopper species possess wings, let alone the fact that they can be damaging crop pests. Grasshoppers are closely related to locusts, but not all grasshopper species are capable of flight. There exists over ten thousand species of grasshoppers, and surprisingly, most of these species are able to fly.

Airborne grasshoppers use their hind legs for hopping, just like the grasshoppers that you have spotted within grasslands. However, airborne grasshoppers use this hopping technique as a booster that enables them achieve flight. The grasshoppers that are more commonly spotted in our yards during the summer season never develop wings.

Farmers and agricultural workers in North America are familiar with airborne grasshoppers, as well as the damage that they cause to crops. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, some types of grasshoppers that dwell within America are capable of destroying entire crops. For example, the dreaded two-striped grasshoppers have been known to destroy crops while swarming. You may be wondering why grasshoppers swarm in the first place.

A grasshoppers physiology, as well as climatic conditions, can determine when grasshoppers will swarm. Studies show that a chemical present in a grasshoppers nervous system, called serotonin, will increase in response to various external factors. Serotonin also exists within the human body, where it functions as a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, and many other functions. When serotonin increases, grasshoppers, as well as locusts, will begin to swarm. These swarms have been found to take place in between ten o’clock AM and six o’clock PM, and never outside of this time bracket. Also, grasshoppers will not swarm unless the temperature is at least seventy five degrees fahrenheit and the skies are free of clouds. It is during these times that farmers prepare themselves for what could be considered the most devastating of all types of insect pest invasions.

Have you ever spotted a grasshopper swarm before? If you have, were you able to differentiate the grasshopper swarm from a locust swarm when first witnessing the event?

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