Grasshoppers and crickets

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Grasshoppers and crickets belong to the order Orthoptera. Grasshoppers are vegetarian and diurnal, while bush-crickets are hunters and predominantly nocturnal, and this is reflected in the structure of their bodies: bush-crickets are generally larger and more powerful and have longer antennae.

What they have in common are powerful hind legs that allow them to leap to safety when threatened, and their habit of stridulating – making a chirping or buzzing noise – by rubbing their hind legs together and/or against their wings. This is probably done both to advertise their territories and to attract mates, and many species can be identified by the noise they make.

The meadow grasshopper is probably the commonest grasshopper in Essex, found in almost any patch of long grass. The common green grasshopper frequents coarser grasslands.

The oak bush-cricket, dark bush-cricket and speckled bush-cricket (unusual in that it is flightless) are as widespread but in smaller numbers. The great green bush-cricket and short-winged conehead are principally coastal species, but two others have recently extended their range northwards and inland from the coast: roesels bush-cricket and long-winged conehead.

© Tony Gunton