Walking through a backyard in the spring and summer, you’re likely to spy a bright green grasshopper springing across your path. These medium-to-large insects have two pairs of wings and long back legs used for hopping. Special mouthparts called mandibles and molars are used for cutting and grinding. Grinding what, though? What do grasshoppers eat? Keep reading to learn more!
“What’s on Grasshopper’s Plate?”
Download this free nature activity for kids, from The Good and the Beautiful!
What Do Grasshoppers Eat?
Most grasshoppers are herbivores, which means they eat plants. Given a choice of any plant in their environment, grasshoppers seem to prefer crops like rye, barley, cotton, corn, alfalfa, and wheat.
Farmers usually do not want these green guys around—grasshoppers can eat up to 16 times their body weight in crops each day!
Even though grasshoppers like to eat crops, they aren’t picky. If they can’t find their favorite grain to munch on, grasshoppers will also eat grasses, flowers, and leaves. If even those can’t be found, grasshoppers resort to eating less nutritious moss, fungi, and bark.
What Eats a Grasshopper?
Because of their size and tendency to eat only plants, grasshoppers rank pretty low on the food chain, making them a tasty snack for predators, such as birds, snakes, mice, frogs, and lizards.
Grasshoppers do have a way to discourage these animals from feasting on them—eating toxic plants and storing the toxins in their bodies.
Grasshopper vs. Cricket
Grasshoppers are distantly related to another hopping insect—the cricket. Although they share the feature of large, strong back legs, crickets and grasshoppers differ in their food preferences. Crickets are omnivores, feeding on meat and plants. Some of their favorites include insect larvae, aphids, grasses, leaves, seeds, fruit, flowers, and decaying plant matter.
There are other differences between the grasshoppers and crickets too. Grasshoppers are larger and green, while crickets are smaller and black. Grasshoppers prefer grazing in the daylight while crickets are busy chirping at night. Learn about other differences between the two insects here.
Now that you know what grasshoppers like to eat, click below to download our free printable activity for kids: What’s on Grasshopper’s Plate? and help feed the grasshopper!
You may also like: