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Grasshoppers and crickets
Assorted members of the Order Orthoptera: (top to bottom) red-legged grasshopper (Melanoplus femur-rubrum); Carolina locust (Dissosteria carolina); field cricket (Gryllus pennsylvanicus). Collected and identified by Sara Mitchell. Photos by Amanda McCreless. Click here to see examples of more Orthopterans!

Insect Identification Key
Order Orthoptera: the grasshoppers, locusts, crickets and katydids

Based on your answers to the questions, you have identified your insect as being in the order Orthoptera!

Members of this order include: grasshoppers, plague locusts, katydids, crickets, pygmy grasshoppers.

Etymology: Orthoptera comes from the Greek ortho, which means straight, and ptera, which means wings. This refers to the narrow front wings, which lie side by side and run straight down the body.

General characteristics:
• long hind legs (in many species the hind legs are quite robust)
• two pairs of wings, the hind pair of which is hidden beneath the forewings when the insect is at rest
• front wings, which are called tegmina, are long and narrow, and have a leathery texture
• hind wings are membranous and fold like a fan
• large, shield-like pronotum that extends back to cover at least most of the thorax
• long, thin antennae
hemimetabolous metamorphosis (egg — nymph — adult)

Click here to see examples of more Orthopterans!

Number of species worldwide: more than 20,000

Kingdom Animalia
   Phylum Arthropoda
      Class Insecta
         Order Orthoptera

For a list of all of the orders in this key, click here: List of Orders.

Oops! If this doesn't appear to be the order for your insect, go back through the key and look more carefully at your insect while answering the questions again. Your perseverance will reward you!

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Photos at the top of this website are (from left to right): potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) — photo credit: Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture; ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)— photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens) — photo credit: Natalie Allen and Stephanie Kolski, U.S. Geological Survey; preying mantis, monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), hellgrammite (aka toe biter) larva and eyed click beetle (Alaus oculatus) — photo credit: Leslie Mertz; Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina) — photo credit: Kay Meng, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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