Introduction  Mouthparts  Development

Insect Orders

Other Arthropods
 Spiders, etc.

Entomology for Master Gardeners
Entomology BasicsPest ManagementAdvanced EntomologySearch

Order Orthoptera: Grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches, walkingsticks, praying mantids

Most entomology text books place some of these in other orders, cockroaches in the Order Blattaria, mantids in the Order Mantodea, and walkingsticks in the Order Phasmida, but we will group them together for simplicity.

The first order is Orthoptera. Orthoptera literally means 'straight winged.' These insects have gradual metamorphosis, that is the nymps are similar in shape to the adult except smaller and without complete wings. Nymphs usually feed on the same food as the adults. These have chewing mouthparts and straight, leathery wings. Many of these insects lay their eggs in cases.

The katydid on the right is only a nymph with short wing pads, while the adult on the left has fully developed wings. Insects with gradual metamorphosis develop their wings pads on the outside of the body.

Kentucky Examples in the Order Orthoptera

This is a tree cricket, an example of an Orthopteran. Notice the enlarged femurs on the hind legs that are modified for jumping. Tree crickets are excellent singers, rubbing one front wing against the other. They are plant feeders.

This is a field cricket. Although this is an adult, notice that the wings do not extend to the tip of the abdomen. Some adult insects with wings cannot fly. They may have reduced wings or no wings at all. The structure at the end of the abdomen is an ovipositor, an egg layer, use to insert eggs into the soil.

This is a common grasshopper species in Kentucky. Grasshoppers are very common and many are pests of cultivated crops. They lay their eggs in the soil and most species here have a single generation per year.

This is a camel cricket. Unfortunately, they are common in basements and crawl spaces beneath homes. Many a home owner has been surprised to see camel crickets jumping about when the basement lights are turned on.

Observe the front legs on this insect. The legs are designed to dig through soil and they look nearly identical to those of a mole. This is a mole cricket. Despite the short front wings, the mole cricket can fly towards lights at night. Note the longer hind wings held narrowly down the back.

This is a Pennsylvania wood cockroach. Commonly found in wooded areas, these cockroaches fly to lights at night and may be seen resting near porch lights. Unlike other unwanted cockroaches found in homes, these usually do not survive for long when they accidentally enter homes.

This is a praying mantid (some say praying mantis). We have three species in the state, the Chinese, Carolina, and European. There is a single generation of each per year. Praying mandids are predators of other insects and are considered beneficial.

The last example is that of a walkingstick. Walkingsticks are common but seldom noticed because of their excellent camouflage. Walkingsticks are plant feeders and, in Kentucky, are wingless, but there are winged species in other regions.

Photo credits:  R. Bessin, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky; montage created by P. Dillon, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky

The teaching modules on this site were created by Ric Bessin;
web functionality was created and is maintained by Pat Dillon
Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, S-225 Agricultural Science Ctr North, Lexington, KY USA  40546-0091.
Please send questions or suggestions to: rbessin@uky.edu OR pdillon@uky.edu