Grasshoppers are common and widespread insects that are found in a variety of habitats throughout the world. As herbivorous bugs, they can cause significant damage to garden plants, vegetables, and grasses and, when they form swarms of locusts, can devastate cereal and vegetable crops.
Grasshoppers are highly mobile and difficult to control, but they are also very nutritious. For this reason, they have lots of natural predators including birds, frogs, lizards, snakes, mice, and even humans.
What are grasshoppers?
Grasshoppers are ground-dwelling insects of the suborder Caelifera. They are best known for their powerful hind legs and athletic jumping skills, which they use to escape from predators and other threats. As herbivorous insects, grasshoppers can cause significant damage to crops and are a serious pest of cereals and vegetables in some regions. This is especially true of species (such as the short-horned grasshopper) that form large swarms of locusts.
Keep in mind!
Grasshoppers are also sporadic pests of gardens and can cause significant damage to backyard vegetable patches, grasses, and shrubs.
They have a unique appearance that makes them easy to distinguish from other types of bugs, but are notoriously difficult to control due to their mobility. Fortunately, grasshoppers have a number of natural predators so, by encouraging some of these species into your garden, you may be able to keep their numbers in check.
What eats grasshoppers?
Grasshoppers have lots of natural predators and are preyed upon by several bird, mammalian, lizard, spider, and insect species.
Birds are one of the most important natural predators of grasshoppers. These insects feature in the diets of dozens of bird species including blue jays, owls, crows, blackbirds, sparrows, wrens, robins, bluebirds, meadowlarks, and more.
Frogs are great for backyard pest control, as they’ll eat just about any type of insect or grub. These pond-dwelling amphibians feed on everything from butterflies to spiders, caterpillars, worms, crickets, and grasshoppers. Some larger species (like the American Bullfrog) are even known to prey on mice, snakes, and fish!
All snakes are carnivorous and usually feed on vertebrate prey animals like rodents, lizards, fish, and amphibians. However, some smaller snake species (like the Garter snake) will occasionally eat insects, including grasshoppers.
Spiders are fearsome predators and eat a wide variety of other animals. Although most spiders stick to smaller prey (like flies), some larger species will catch and devour grasshoppers, lizards, frogs, mice, and even birds.
Do mice eat grasshoppers?
Mice have expansive diets, but most prefer to eat plant-based materials like seeds and fruit. However, some species of mice (like the deer mouse) also eat insects such as beetles, caterpillars, leafhoppers, and grasshoppers. Another species (the grasshopper mouse) is mostly carnivorous and, in addition to grasshoppers, will prey on lizards, birds, and even other mice.
Can bearded dragons eat grasshoppers?
Bearded dragons absolutely can eat grasshoppers, but pet dragons should only be fed insects that have been specifically bred for consumption. Wild grasshoppers may harbor parasites or other pathogens, or may have come into contact with harmful chemicals like herbicides or pesticides.
These could make your lizard sick, so don’t feed them anything you catch in your garden.
If you want to treat your bearded dragon to some crunchy grasshoppers, make sure to purchase them from a reputable pet store.
Do humans eat grasshoppers?
Insects may not be common on Western menus but, in most other parts of the world, bugs are a part of many traditional diets. Insects are consumed throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America and grasshoppers are enjoyed in many countries, including Thailand, Mexico, and Uganda.
Are grasshoppers nutritious?
Grasshoppers are considered a delicacy in many countries, and they pack a serious nutritional punch. Not only are these bugs an excellent source of protein, they also contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals including:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B
Edible insects, like grasshoppers, also contain a lot less cholesterol than other animal-based foods, making them a potentially healthier food source than meat.
Are all types of grasshoppers safe to eat?
Most grasshopper species are edible and delicious. If you want to try them for yourself, however, don’t attempt to catch and cook bugs from your backyard. Wild grasshoppers may contain parasites, or could have come into contact with harmful chemicals. If you’d like to give grasshopper a go, look for a reputable retailer than specializes in edible insects.
The majority of grasshopper species are non-poisonous, don’t bite, and are completely harmless to humans, but this doesn’t mean all grasshoppers are safe to eat.
One such species is the Eastern Lubber grasshopper, which is native to the south eastern regions of the United States. This brightly colored, slow-moving insect produces a spray of toxic chemicals when disturbed, and these same secretions can cause vomiting or even death in animals that eat them.
Grasshoppers are highly mobile and hard to catch, but they still feature in the diets of hundreds of bird, reptile, mammal, and amphibian species. Grasshoppers are also widely consumed by people all over the world, and are considered a delicacy in countries such as Thailand, Mexico, and Uganda.
There’s no doubt that grasshoppers are a popular food choice, and this is partly thanks to their impressive nutritional profile.
Grasshoppers are packed with proteins, vitamins and minerals and contain significantly less cholesterol than meats like pork and beef. They may not become mainstream on Western menus anytime soon, but grasshoppers could be a healthier source of protein than other animal-derived foods.