Short-Horned Grasshopper Fact File
Short-horned grasshoppers are found in Europe where they primarily live in alpine habitats such as the alps.
Due to the high wind species in their habitat which would make flight difficult this species lacks wings and as such is mostly silent. A low noise can be produced by their mouthparts.
They are omnivores though most of their diet is grasses and herbs. Insects are eaten on occasion.
Eggs are laid in the soil and spend at least winter, sometimes two, dormant underground before they hatch.
Read on to learn more about these incredible invertebrates.
The short-horned grasshopper is wingless unlike many other species of grasshopper. This is thought to be an adaptation due to the strong winds of their mountainous habitat.
Vestigial wings are present in some specimens typically being small and oval shaped. These occasionally develop in to full wings in some individuals.
Across their body a short-horned grasshopper may be colored yellow, gray or orange-brown. A black band runs down from the eye to the abdomen. Along the abdomen this turns in to spots.
On the inside and outer of the hind leg they are colored red.
Protruding from the head are two antennae. As an insect they have six legs.
Females tend to be larger than males. An average length for the species would be 30mm (1.25in) long.
Short-horned grasshoppers are omnivores. The majority of their diet is made up of grasses and herbs but occasionally they will also feed on dead insects.
Europe is the native home of the short-horned grasshopper. Here they enjoy a wide range covering the following countries – Albania; Andorra; Austria; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Italy ; Liechtenstein; Montenegro; North Macedonia; Norway; Poland; Romania; Russia; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden and Switzerland.
They are considered to be extinct in Czechia.
Their range has across Europe has seen large declines over the course of the 20th century.
These animals are an alpine species which are primarily found in the alps. Habitats they make use of include sub-alpine, forest clearings, grassland and dwarf-pine. They live in grassland interspersed with rock.
Short-horned grasshoppers show a preference for habitat with areas of ground exposed to the sun.
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Adults are active from late June to October. During this time they will breed.
Eggs are laid and then spend winter dormant in the soil. Some eggs spend two winters in the ground developing before hatching. The young hatch in late June resembling smaller versions of the adults.
Five larval stages are undertaken over the course of 10 days.
They will molt their exoskeleton as they grow.
During periods of cold weather they seek out shelter under a rock.
Both males and females can produce a rasping noise using the mouthparts but these are quite faint. Unlike other grasshoppers they can not produce chirps due to the lack of wings.
These insects have shown an ability to live in isolated subpopulations. Occasionally winged individuals emerge and can move across larger distances. This helps to bring new genetics to these isolated populations.
Predators and Threats
As they lack wings they can not fly away from threats like other grasshoppers. Instead they will jump to escape them.
This species is considered to be highly endangered. They are most scarce in the northern regions of the alps.
They have shown some ability to persist in areas which have been damaged by ski tourism.
Threats to their survival include overgrowth of pasture taking away suitable habitat, climate change creating a moister climate.
Despite some colonies showing an ability to survive as isolated subpopulations the fragmentation has gotten so large in parts of Europe that their is now thought to be no chance for genetic exchange between these groups.
They may also be known as the common mountain grasshopper.
By Hectonichus – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14988621
Ivkovic Slobodan, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Middle Two and Bottom
Gilles San Martin from Namur, Belgium, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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