Reddish Vale Country Park
There are thought to be around 30 different species of grasshopper in the UK and can be seen from May to October in meadows and rough grassland.
For such a small creature the grasshopper can make a surprisingly loud noise. Walk past any patch of tall grass in the summer and you are sure to hear the males chirping to the females.
The noise is made by a row of pegs on their back legs, which they rub against their forewings. The wings help to amplify the sound.
Experts are able to identify the different species of grasshopper by the sound they make. Since each species has a slightly different arrangement of pegs on their legs, the sound they make is unique.
Their lond, powerful back legs are also used as a defence mechanism. If the grasshopper feels threatened it can leap over quite long distances, and propel itself out of harms way.
They all have large eyes, and hearing organs located on each side of the body on the abdomen.
They are active in daylight hours.
Grasshoppers lay their eggs in dry soil. The nymphs emerge around May the following year. There is no pupa or chrysalis stage in their life cycle, they simply grow and moult several times until they reach adult size around August.
In certain countries, grasshoppers are eaten as a good source of protein. In Mexico for example, chapulines are regarded for their high content of protein, minerals and vitamins. They are usually collected at dusk, using lamps or electric lighting, in sweep nets. Sometimes they are placed in water for 24 hours, after which they can be boiled or eaten raw, sun-dried, fried, flavoured with spices, such as garlic, onions, chile, drenched in lime, and used in soup or as a filling for various dishes. They are abundant in Mexican food and street markets, particularly in the central regions.
In some countries in Africa, grasshoppers are an important food source, as are other insects, adding proteins and fats to the daily diet, especially in times of food crisis. They are often used in soup. The "grasshoppers" eaten in Uganda and neighbouring areas are called nsenene.
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