Grasshoppers in March

We generally associate the presence of Orthopterans (grasshoppers, crickets, katydids) with hot summer days and balmy August nights.  However, some species may be encountered in early spring, especially during periods of warm weather.

Following a week of summer-like conditions along the Colorado Front Range, small grasshoppers are abundant on our Littleton farm.  While most species overwinter as eggs and do not emerge until late spring or early summer, some species winter as nymphs, one of several intermediate stages between the egg and adult forms.  Unlike many insects, Orthopterans mature through incomplete metamorphosis; during the nymph stages they have the appearance of miniature adults and molt as they grow.

Grasshoppers encountered in early spring are those species that winter as nymphs, sheltered from the cold in leaf litter or other plant debris.  Fortunately, these species, while providing an important source of food for a variety of birds and mammals, do not damage cultivated plants and crops.