1. Grasshopper or cricket?
Can you spot the difference? Even thought the two are very often mixed up, the difference between the two is actually quite obvious. Both do indeed have those huge back legs, but that's also where the visual similarities end. Grasshoppers are in general much bigger than crickets, and on a photo the two can easily be distinguished by the length of the antennae. Crickets have long antennae that are almost as long as the cricket itself, while the antennae of grasshoppers are short . Another important, but non-visual, difference between the two is that grasshoppers can be a real plague (more on that in point 3) while crickets never turn into a plague.
2. This ancient animal survived the dinosaurs
Not many animals survived the mass extinction event that happened about 66 million years ago that made the dinosaurs go extinct. The most well-known survivors are probably crocodiles and sharks , but did you for example also know that cockroaches (seems like getting rid of them has been a problem for millions of years by now...) and grasshoppers survived the event? The grasshoppers (or crickets, who knows) we know today descend from ancestors that roamed the earth even way before dinosaurs did. The first fossil records showing primitive grasshoppers date back to the Carboniforous period, which was about 300 million years ago.
3. Stronger but not better together
Alone or in small groups, grasshoppers won't do any harm. But chances are you've heard something about the many swarms terrorizing especially East Africa and the Middle East this year . When this happens on the scale it did this year, and several countries are hit by swarms of locusts, it is called a plague. Swarms form when the numbers of grasshoppers increase and they are crowding: they change their behaviour from a rather solitary lifestyle to a so-called gregarious lifestyle (becoming a social animal preferring groups). And because they not only change their behaviour but also their morphology, we have given a swarming grasshopper even a different name: locust . Locusts can multiply 20-fold within a timespan of only three months (a little too gregarious perhaps?). Swarms can grow up to 70 billion (!!) insects a piece and destroy 130 million kilograms of vegetation and crops a day, leaving no food for the local communities .