Order Orthoptera: Grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches, walkingsticks,
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
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
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