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Courtship And Mating

Grasshoppers have an amazing ability to identify their mates. Each species has its individual song, produced by rubbing or flicking the lower back legs on the forewings to create either a chirping or a clicking sound (this is known as stridulation). Females sing more softly than males, facilitating differentiation between both sex and species. Species that make no sound rely on sight and scent to find a mate. Males emit pheromones, external hormones which attract females, while other species use their excellent eyesight to enable identification by color. The tiny, wingless grasshopper Drymophilacris bimaculata of Costa Rica has a brilliant green body with glimmering gold accents on its head, thorax, and genital areas. The male of this species searches out its mate by drumming its hind legs on its preferred food plant. The female drums back, and the pair identify each other by their unique coloring.

Elaborate courtship routines are performed by males in some species. The American grasshopper Syrbula admirabilis displays 18 individual poses using its wings, legs, and palps. Males of other species may wave brilliantly colored wings when wooing the female, while other species forego courtship altogether.

Mating occurs when the male lights on the female's back and may last anywhere from 45 minutes to well over a day. In the species Extatosoma tiaratum, a female mates with several males. Most of the sperm in her genital tract from the first suitor is replaced by the sperm of her next mate. Males therefore mate many times with the same partner and other females to gain the maximum opportunity to pass on their genes. Males of some species die shortly after mating. The females die after egg-laying, which may last until cold weather begins.

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