Orthoptera

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Orthoptera

[ȯr′thäp·tə·rə]
(invertebrate zoology)
A heterogeneous order of generalized insects with gradual metamorphosis, chewing mouthparts, and four wings.

Orthoptera

 

(also Saltatoria), an order of insects with incomplete metamorphosis. The order includes grasshoppers, crickets, and cockroaches. The body is elongate and laterally compressed. The mouthparts are formed for chewing. The majority of orthopterons have two pairs of wings. The front wings are narrow and thick and have a distinct venation; the hind wings are broad, membranous, and folded in plaits like a fan. In some species the wings are shortened or absent. The posterior legs are usually saltatorial. The abdomen consists of ten segments and is equipped with nonsegmented appendages, or cerci. The females of many species have an ovipositor.

The Orthoptera are divided into two suborders: Dolichocera (or Ensifera), which includes the superfamilies Tettigonioidea and Gryllacridoidea, and Brachycera (or Caelifera), which includes the superfamilies Acridoidea and Tridactyloidea. The Dolichocera have long antennae, exceeding half the body length, and long ovipositors. The Brachycera have short antennae and ovipositors. Orthopterons emit and receive sounds by means of special sonic and auditory apparatus.

There are about 20,000 widely distributed species. Species composition is especially diverse in the tropics. The USSR has more than 700 species; they are most varied in the south (Crimea, Caucasus, Middle Asia, southern Primor’e Krai). Most orthopterons (Acridoidea and some Tettigonioidea) are herbivorous; some are predators or omnivores. The eggs are deposited singly or in groups in the soil or, less frequently, on the stems or leaves of plants. Orthopterons encountered in the USSR usually yield one generation a year. Many winter in the egg phase, with the larvae hatching in the spring. Development ends in one or two months, after four to eight molts. Wing formation and oviposition occur in the summer. Many orthopterons live in the grass or in shrubs and trees; some live in the soil, often in burrows, and on the soil surface (Gryllacridoidea and Tridactyloidea).

Fossil orthopterons are known from the Carboniferous. Orthopterons are characteristic insects of open landscapes. Some are dangerous pests of agricultural crops. In peak years of reproduction they severely damage plantings, hay mowings, and pastures; they sometimes damage trees and shrubs. The Acridoidea are the most dangerous. In the south, Tettigonioidea and Gryllacridoidea often cause great harm. The most effective method of controlling destructive orthopterons is chemical; agrotechnical and economic-organizational methods are also used (for example, development of virgin lands or wastelands deprives orthopterons of convenient sites for reproduction).

REFERENCES

Opredelitel’ nasekomykh Evropeiskoi chasti SSSR, vol. 1. Edited by G. Ia. Bei-Bienko. Moscow-Leningrad, 1964.
Zhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 3. Moscow, 1969.

F. N. PRAVDIN