The order Orthoptera is a huge and diverse group of winged insects with more than 25,000 species, many of which are scientifically and economically important. Cockroaches are the most abundant and the earliest fossilized orthopterans found.
photo by Stacey Diaz
Distinctive features of orthopterans are their wings, which, when present at the adult stage usually consists of four wings, and their legs. The two forewings, generally long and narrow, are many-veined and somewhat thickened. The hind wing is a thin membrane and held folded fan-like under the forewings when at rest.
photo by Stacey Diaz
The best known orthopterans with specialized front legs are for the songs they produce are crickets, katydids, and grasshoppers. The loudest insect: one species of cicadas can be heard for a quarter of a mile! They produce using stridulatory (sound-making) mechanisms. The stridulatory mechanism of grasshopper involves moving the hind leg across the folded front wing (tegmen).
The parts that are rubbed together are called the file and the scraper.
The file has little ridges, so the effect is rather like rubbing a comb along a piece of card. Get an index card and comb, rub the tines of the comb against the card and listen for the sounds it makes.
Only Available in this month's At Home PLAY PAK: Insect Invasion! is two Orthopterans: the Chirping Cicada Toy and a Grasshopper Finger Puppet, one of 3 included. The Cicada is Hand-crafted bamboo with details added, this spinning toy hums to the sounds of summer!
With mantids, another close relative to the grasshopper, it's front leg segments that are hinged and spiney are for seizing and holding prey.
The Orthoptera hind legs are enlarged and modified making them great at jumping. If humans were as good as orthoptera at jumping we would jump over 90 m in height and 150 m in length!
The "ears" of grasshoppers are at the base of their abdomen (nearest the thorax), and crickets have their "ears" on their front legs. Only the male crickets make sounds that the females feel in their legs. It's all in the legs with this family of insects!
There are no known stinging orthopterans but many have chemical mechanisms in the form of glands that produce irritating fluids or repugnant odors. Be careful when handling.
A typical orthoptera life cycle has three stages: egg, nymph, and adult. The young of Orthoptera look like small wingless adults. Orthopterans undergo simple or incomplete metamorphosis, with no major changing stage like a butterfly undertakes with no pupal stage.
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Watch the two replays on Instagram or Facebook to listen to the read aloud A Very Quiet Cricket by author Eric Carle and learn about the above facts and a whizzing insect craft using a wide rubber band, two narrow-width rubber bands, wide popsicle stick, index card, and string.
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Thank you for reading this Science Lesson Blog written by certified educator of Philanthrolab Science Shop Ms. Stacey The Science Lady. With over 12 years of teaching experience and creative Science curriculum development, her mission is to inspire children to have a love of Science. She is the owner of Philanthrolab Science Shop. An online shop of 50+ Fun & Affordable Science Toys - ALL $10 or LESS! Featuring The At Home Play Pak, Satchel of Science, and The DIY Sci Kit!
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