Jumping Musicians of the Insect World
WE ADMIT to being creatures with voracious appetites. And yes, our appetites can raise the ire of farmers who view us as pests for destroying their crops. Nevertheless, we grasshoppers have some interesting characteristics—how we jump, how we fly, how we climb, and how we make “music.”
Did you know, for example, that we have five eyes? Instead of having to wear bifocals as many humans do, we have three small eyes in the front of our head for close-up viewing. Our other two eyes are large and set farther back on the head, letting us see what is going on all around us. That is why we are able to keep a jump ahead of you. Wouldn’t you like to have eyes with such capabilities?
How good is our jumping prowess? We can jump ten times our own height and land about three feet away [0.9 m]. For a human to duplicate that, he would have to leap the height of a six-story building. Our secret is our very powerful muscles in the hind legs. They give us the kicking power to accomplish such feats.
Even after our initial jump out of your path, we can make it even harder for you to catch us by using the two pairs of wings all of us possess. The stiff upper wings perform the same function as airplane wings, whereas the more delicate underwings are used as a means of extra propulsion. Thus, by combining our skills of jumping and flying, we can usually fly far enough away to discourage your pursuit.
Do you find it difficult to climb a greasy pole? We don’t. In fact, we can run up a slippery blade of grass with barely a slip because of how the Creator designed our six feet. Minute pads on each foot have tiny hairs that give off a sticky fluid, helping us to get a firm grip on things. Additionally, each foot is equipped with two strong, spiked hooks that prevent us from slipping back on steep inclines. Yes, long before humans ever thought of mountain climbing, we were well equipped to climb.
The males of our clan are the musicians. The lady grasshoppers are duly impressed and consider them quite gifted. Yes, we can hear and respond to different sounds. Our ears are located on each side of the thorax. Thus, when in the mood, the male gently draws a raspy hind leg over the raised veins of a wing in the same way a violinist draws his bow across the strings of his violin. How relaxing on a warm midsummer day to lie in a grassy meadow and absorb the symphony from a thousand grasshoppers and crickets. Ah, the sound of summer!