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Grasshoppers

Defense

Grasshoppers are eaten upon by a number of vertebrate and arthropod predators. Defense mechanisms include leaping and camouflage (blending in with their environment). For example, the grass-dwelling Cylindrotettix of Brazil changes the color of its body from straw-tone in the dry season to green after the rains. Larger species such as Agriacris trilineata of Peru's rainforests may use physical defense, kicking predators with powerful hind legs ominously equipped with long spines that can draw blood. Other species use startle tactics. The Mexican species Taeniopoda auricornis, a tiny black-and-white grasshopper, flashes glorious crimson wings to startle and scare off predators.

Chemical deterrents, such as the regurgitation and defecation of sticky, obnoxious-smelling fluids, are employed by many species of grasshoppers. A few species produce a stinking glandular excretion which effectively repels predators as large as geckos, jays, domestic cats, and monkeys. Certain species sequester toxic chemicals from their plant food and predators ingesting them become ill. Most of the toxic species of grasshoppers have conspicuous vivid warning colors which predators learn to avoid. Some nontoxic species of grasshopper mimic the color of toxic species so that predators also avoid them.


Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Glucagon to HabitatGrasshoppers - Classification, Distribution, And Habitat, Leaping, Body Temperature, Defense, Courtship And Mating - Size and color