Grasshoppers are found all over the world except for Antarctica. These insects prefer habitats such as grasslands, jungles and forests, where they live and feed amidst grasses and small plants. The enemies of a grasshopper depend on where the grasshopper is located.
Grasshoppers fall prey to numerous species of birds, depending on the environment the grasshopper lives in. When hiding in the tall grasses of common reeds, grasshoppers fall prey to great crested flycatchers. When consuming red clover or hiding among the vegetation, grasshoppers are eaten by wild turkeys. According to the University of Kentucky, grasshoppers also fall prey to blue jays, blackbirds, chickens, bluebirds and hawks.
While grazing in bushy aster plants like dandelions, grasshoppers are eaten by raccoons. Grasshoppers feeding or hiding in common mullein plants are eaten by mammals like opossums, big brown bats, red foxes and least shrews. Rodents like the northern grasshopper mouse are also known to eat grasshoppers.
If foraging in switchgrass along marshes and meadows, grasshoppers fall prey to larger insects such as the Chinese mantis. Garden centipedes eat grasshoppers who are hiding in common dandelions. Grasshoppers are prey of many species of bees, including eastern yellow jackets and bald-faced hornets. Additional insect predators include beetles, rabid wolf spiders, dragonflies, field crickets and carpenter ants.
Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
Grasshoppers taking up shelter in common mullein plants fall prey to reptiles such as the eastern box turtle. American toads eat grasshoppers located in smooth crabgrass. Grasshoppers risk being eaten by largemouth bass if they are too close to the grassy edges of ponds or slow streams. Snakes such as the northern ringneck snake eat grasshoppers that forage near Queen Anne's lace plants.
Grasshoppers can also be attacked by fungi. Entomophthora grylli is a type of fungi that affects grasshoppers climbing on infected plants in warm and humid conditions. This fungus infects the grasshopper, forcing it into a "death grip" position around the plant. Eventually the grasshopper dies in this position as the fungus spreads through its body. The fungus' spores develop on the deceased grasshopper, ultimately becoming airborne and infecting other grasshoppers.
How Grasshoppers Protect Themselves
Grasshoppers employ several methods of protecting themselves from predators. If necessary, grasshoppers catapult themselves away from predators using their long legs. Grasshoppers are also able to fly away from predators, provided their wings are powerful enough. Species such as the lubber grasshopper are toxic to predators if eaten. Lubber grasshoppers also spit a brown liquid made from digested plant matter onto predators if they feel threatened.
- University of Kentucky: Three Common Kentucky Grasshoppers and Their Natural Enemies
- University of Arizona : Grasshopper Information
- University of Michigan: Grasshoppers
- Fairfax County Public Schools: Differential Grasshopper
- University of Florida: Lubber Grasshopper
- Texas A&M University: Grasshoppers and Their Control
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