DIFFERENCEs BETWEEN GRASSHOPPERS AND BUTTERFLIES
Insects are fascinating creatures. They are the most successful of all animals in terms of distribution and survivability. Most have not evolved since hundreds of millions of years ago. And this is a testament to how their physiology is well adapted for all terrains and climate conditions. There are more than a hundred species of insects, and more have yet to be discovered.
This particular article shall focus on two of the more popular representatives of all insects: grasshoppers and butterflies. These two insects are quite common. We see them either in the wild or in the more familiar confines of human settlements. Our shared stories and mythologies have various references to these two creatures.
So, what are the differences between a grasshopper and a butterfly? Let us compare and contrast these two rodents based on their size, appearance, habitat, diet, behavior, and evolution.
Butterflies are usually between an eighth of an inch to a foot in size, depending on the variety. On average, they weigh less than an ounce. Their wingspan may range somewhere from 1.5 cm to about afoot. Female butterflies are slightly heavier than makes.
Grasshoppers may be between 0.39 inches to about 3 inches in length, depending on the variety. They tip the scales at less than an ounce.
As with all insects, the butterfly’s body has three segments: head, thorax, and abdomen. Most species have club-tipped antennae. All butterflies have a proboscis to coil when in flight or at rest or extend when they feed. Of course, their most prominent physical feature is their four colorful wings. Their wings have a scaly appearance and feel.
Grasshoppers have long elongated bodies, clawed feet built for gripping, strong jaws, and pairs of forewings and hindwings. But their most distinguishing feature is the pair of powerful hind legs that allow them to pounce or jump across great distances.
Butterflies are found all over the world except in the arctic regions. As long as there are nectar-rich flowers, butterflies will thrive. There are butterflies in the rainforest, in open grasslands, and even in desert regions that can still support succulents. They can also be found in human settlements. Farmlands and parks are also favorable habitats for butterflies.
As with butterflies, grasshoppers can also be found in nearly all terrestrial environments. They thrive in rainforests, mountains, steppes, and even along coastlines. Even some of the flightless varieties can get by due to their ability to move quickly between food sources with their powerful hind feet.
Grasshoppers are omnivorous. They will prefer to eat vegetation, particularly grass. But they will also exist on leaves and the other soft spots of plants. They will also eat carrion and animal feces. Their jaws are powerful enough to rip through the relatively hard animal tissue.
Caterpillars are consummate eaters. In their caterpillar stage, they eat plant matter. Some can become quite destructive as they strip plants completely of their leaves! But as adults, butterflies almost exclusively feed on the nectar they extract from flowers with their beak. There are a few species of butterflies that feed on tree sap.
Butterflies have excellent vision. They can sense the full range of the electromagnetic spectrum, including ultraviolet. To navigate, they rely on their antennae to pick up subtle changes in the breeze. They also use their antennae to detect scents. The club tips of their antennae are filled with sensory matter that enhances their appreciation of their surroundings. Butterflies are also able to pick up pheromones and chemical signals. Grasshoppers are diurnal.
Grasshoppers are very active in daylight. But they do not necessarily become inactive at night. They will also feed at night. Grasshoppers are generally solitary, except when mating season comes. Grasshoppers have a unique survival response mechanism. When they are threatened, they will extrude a brown liquid at their pursuers or predators. The brief second of distraction is enough for the grasshopper to hop away with its powerful legs.
Grasshoppers evolved some 65 million years ago. They are relatively younger compared to their kin, the crickets, and the katydids. Not surprisingly, they evolved at about the same time when grasslands developed as one of the most pronounced terrain features on the planet. The grasshoppers were well equipped physically to thrive in such kind of environment.
It is believed that butterflies may have evolved during the Cretaceous period. The earliest butterfly fossils dated go as far back as 40 to 50 million years ago, during the Eocene period. In the same manner that grasshoppers emerged just as grasslands appeared and radiated, butterflies evolved alongside the emergence and radiation of angiosperms or flowering plants. The butterflies were perfectly positioned to take advantage of the abundance of nectar-producing flowers with their specialized tongues.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
DO GRASSHOPPERS MAKE GOOD PETS?
Yes. They are easy to maintain. They require a large repurposed fish tank where they can move with ease, and a steady supply of greens, particularly grass, to feed on. It is also good to fill their tanks with compost and branches where they can hop on.
DO BUTTERFLIES MAKE GOOD PETS?
Yes. They are popular as pets, both as young caterpillars or adult butterflies. As caterpillars, they require a ventilated enclosure with lots of fresh plant matter to chew on since they do not seem to stop eating. Like butterflies, they require a very large enclosure, preferably made with a mosquito net.
ARE GRASSHOPPERS EATEN?
Yes. Along with crickets, they can be deep-fried. They are popular as street food in Southeast Asia. They are nutritionally significant because they are packed with protein with little to no fat.
CAN BUTTERFLIES BE EATEN?
Well, only a few varieties of butterflies–and moths–are edible. And generally, they are not eaten as adults. The caterpillars of these few varieties are the truly edible ones. The idea of eating insects has become very popular for two reasons. The first reason is that insects are very abundant. The second reason is that insects are very rich in lean protein.