Grasshoppers and Locusts

During warmer months, grasshoppers are common and adapt well to being kept in reasonably large cages. The common, large, garden species in suburban areas is the Hedge Grasshopper, Valanga irregularis. It feeds mostly on shrubs and particularly favours Acalypha, Hibiscus and Bauhinia; palms are another food source. Another large grasshopper is the Spur-throated Locust, Nomadacris guttulosa, but this species feeds mostly on grasses. They are much harder to catch and culture than Valanga.

Adult Hedge Grasshoppers spend winter in concealed places. With the first warm days of October they emerge from hiding, mate and lay eggs in areas of bare soil. The eggs hatch in December to nymphs which feed voraciously and develop to a new generation of adults by about February-March. The flightless nymphs of Valanga are easily caught and live well in cages, moulting progressively to adults. All that is needed is a regular supply of suitable foliage kept in water. Occasionally misting the foliage with water supplies all the moisture they need. Females will deposit eggs in a container of soil tamped hard. In the classroom, a cage of grasshoppers can be used for direct observation or can be drawn upon as a periodic source of fresh specimens for other class activities with grasshoppers.

Hedge Grasshopper, Valanga irregularis (Acrididae) Adult Hedge Grasshopper

Hedge grasshopper nymph Hedge Grasshopper nymph

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