Grasshoppers (and all other insects) have a very different anatomy to vertebrates. Insects have several internal structures in common with one another, and many also have highly specialized external structures unique to their species. In the case of the grasshopper, this is their powerful hind legs, which they use to leap long distances and escape potential threats.
External anatomy of grasshoppers
The external features of a grasshopper are all the parts you can see on its body. These include the head (along with the eyes, antennae, and mouthparts), the thorax, the abdomen, the wings, and the legs.
The grasshopper head is made up of several segments, including the eyes, antennae, and mouthparts. Grasshoppers have two antennae which, depending on the species, may be threadlike, wide at the bottom and narrow at the top, or narrow with a wider tip.
Their mouthparts are specially adapted for chewing, and are controlled by large muscles.
Grasshoppers have a total of five eyes; two large compound eyes, which are found just above the bases of the antennae, and three simple eyes called ocelli.
The thorax is the front part of the grasshopper’s body. It is made up of three segments, each of which has a pair of legs attached to it. The grasshopper’s wings are also attached to the thorax.
The abdomen is the hind part of the grasshopper’s body. It is made up of 11 segments, the last of which contains the grasshopper’s reproductive organs.
Like all insects, grasshoppers have six legs. They use their first two pairs of legs to walk and hold their prey, but their hind legs have a completely different function.
The last two legs of the grasshopper are enlarged and highly specialized to allow them to leap long distances in their efforts to escape predators.
Grasshopper legs also have rows of spines which, when rubbed together, allow them to ‘sing.’
Grasshoppers have two pairs of wings, with one pair attached to the second segment of the thorax and the other attached to the third segment. The front pair of wings is narrow with a leathery appearance, and the hind pair are thin and membranous with a fan-like shape.
Grasshoppers (like all invertebrates) have a tough, exterior layer called the exoskeleton. The exoskeleton is made of a hard material called chitin, and its key function is to protect the insect’s body. It also limits water loss from the grasshopper’s body and helps to keep pathogens and other foreign materials out.
Internal anatomy of grasshoppers
If you cut a grasshopper open, you would find that it is filled with highly specialized organs. These include the heart, brain, gonads, nerves, and more.
Body fat is a very important structure in all insects, including grasshoppers. It is found throughout the insect body, and it has several major functions. These include energy storage, protein synthesis, and the synthesis and utilization of fat and glycogen molecules.
The reproductive system
The reproductive system in grasshoppers consists of the gonads, or male and female reproductive organs. Male grasshopper gonads consist of a pair of testes, sperm ducts, sperm tubes, and seminal vesicles. The female grasshopper reproductive system includes two ovaries, two oviducts, and a vagina.
The respiratory system
The respiratory system in grasshoppers consists of hollow air tubes called trachea and openings in the surface of the thorax and abdomen called spiracles. Oxygen enters the insect’s body through the spiracles, and carbon dioxide diffuses out.
The circulatory system
The circulatory system in grasshoppers moves haemolymph (the substance insects have instead of blood) around their bodies.
They don’t have hearts in the same way mammals do; instead, they have a transparent, heart-like structure in their abdomen.
The digestive and excretory systems
The grasshopper abdomen contains most of its digestive and excretory structures. The insect digestive system is comprised of three main structures; the foregut (starting at the mouth), the hindgut (which ends with the anus), and the midgut, which is found between the two.
The central nervous system
The central nervous system (CNS) of a grasshopper includes the brain and the ventral nerve cord. The ventral nerve cord runs down the length of the grasshopper’s abdomen and thorax, and the brain is found inside the head.
The external body parts of grasshoppers include their head, which is equipped with specialized mouthparts, antennae, and a total of 5 eyes. Their body consists of a segmented thorax (to which the wings and legs are attached), and a segmented abdomen.
Like all insects, grasshoppers have 6 legs, but the hind two are highly adapted for jumping. They also have a row of spines, which grasshoppers rub together to produce their ‘song.’
The internal structures of grasshoppers are similar to those of other insects, and include the respiratory system, the circulatory system, the digestive system, the excretory system, the reproductive system, the central nervous system, and the body fat.