Catch and release grasshoppers
Catching grasshoppers is a fun and easy way to study insects. They are easy to catch with a net, jar, or your hands. (They do “spit” a dark liquid sometimes, so don’t be surprised if that happens!) You can find them in grassy areas, tall grass is best, but you can even find them in mown lawns. Depending on when you look, they may be in the nymph stage or adult. (A good opportunity to study incomplete metamorphosis.) If they can fly, you have found adult grasshoppers. If you have a magnifier, you can see their parts even clearer, but you should be able to count their legs, see their head, thorax, and abdomen, and view their mouth parts even without one. Can you tell if you find more than one kind of grasshopper? Can you measure how far they can jump? You may even want to have a jumping contest when you are ready to release them!
Internet links to help you:
The BioKIDS Critter Catalog is a product of the University of Michigan. They have a very informative page on grasshoppers at: http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Acridadae
Grasshoppers (Bug Books) by Karen Hartley, Chris Macro, and Philip Taylor – introduces readers to the physical characteristics, diet, life cycle, and habitat of grasshoppers
Are You a Grasshopper? (Backyard Books) by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries – very youth friendly
Grasshoppers by Ann Heinrichs