This lesson developed by Reach
Recommended Age: Elementary
Is a grasshopper an insect?
What are the characteristics of an insect?
What You Need
- Clean glass quart jar
- Rubber band
- Grass and twigs
- Magnifying glass
What You Do
- Cut a square piece from the cheesecloth to make a top for your jar.
- Use your trowel to get a chunk of earth with some grass on it.
- Put the grass in your jar. Add a twig or two.
- Catch a grasshopper. Put it in your jar. Put the cheesecloth on the
top of your jar. Secure it with a rubber band.
- Use your magnifying glass to study and check out the grasshopper's
- Can you see three basic body parts? These are called the head, the
thorax, and the abdomen. Are these body parts soft or hard? The
grasshopper's outer body is hard. We call this tough, almost
shell-like body an exo-skeleton. It protects the insides of the
- Look at the grasshopper's head. What do you see? It should have a
mouth, eyes, and a pair of antennae.
- Check out the thorax. What do you see? There are three pairs of legs
and two pairs of wings. What is so different about the back legs from
the other legs? These big, thick legs are used for jumping.
- Look at the two pairs of wings. Are they the same? Which pair is long
and thin and very stiff-looking? The top wings are the biggest. The
lower wings are delicate, see-through, and almost look like fans when
the grasshopper is flying.
- Carefully look at the abdomen. Do you see a little opening on each
segment? These little openings are called trachea. The grasshopper
breathes through these little holes or trachea.
- Is your grasshopper a male or female? If it is a female, you will see
a pointed and long segment at the end of her abdomen. She uses this
body part to deposit her eggs on the ground. A male's last body segment
is rounded, not pointy and long.
What Is Happening
The grasshopper is a terrific example of critters we call "insects."
Insects have these kinds of traits or characteristics:
- An exo-skeleton or a hard covering on the outside of its body. This is
almost like a shell for the insects. It protects their soft inside body
parts from harm.
- Three distinct main body parts: head, thorax, and abdomen.
- The head of an insect usually has a mouth, a pair of eyes, and a pair
of antennae. Antennae are neat. They are kind of like a radio's antenna.
The insect's antennae pick up messages of sound and motion. They also
depend on their antennae to help them fly straight and around things.
- Insects all have three pairs of legs. Most use their legs for walking. Some
insects, like the grasshopper, may use a pair of legs for jumping.
- Insects have two pairs of wings. Often one set is bigger and one set
is smaller. Some insects have wings, but they can't fly! Other insects
are great on the land walking and jumping, but they also can fly.
Other insects you might catch and study are lady bugs, bees, mosquitoes,
beetles, houseflies, fruit flies, a praying mantis or a dragonfly! Insects
are fun to study. It is weird that they can look and be so different from
one another yet all still be classified as being in the insect family.
Some insects are helpful to us, others are harmful. You might have fun
looking up which insects we like and need and which ones we would just as
soon do without! Ideas of insects to study which are helpful to us are
bees, butterflies, and silk worm moths. Some harmful insects to learn about
are locusts and grasshoppers, gypsy moths, termites, fleas, lice, and