The Orthoptera comprise the terrestrial insects commonly known as short-horned grasshoppers, katydids, locusts (in the strict sense: not the cicadas) and crickets, as well as related groups without common names. They are mainly medium-sized to large and include some of the largest living insects, with bodies over 11.5 cm long and wingspans more than 22 cm. They occur over all but the coldest parts of the earth's surface, but are best developed in the tropics. They are often abundant as individuals, forming a characteristic and striking component of the fauna in many parts of the world.
The interactive LUCID key available on this website (see the 'Identify Families' link) was written by Danswell Starr from the Australian National University.
The order is perhaps best known for the power of jumping possessed by nearly all species, and for the 'singing' that many indulge in, especially at night.
The word locust has become a byword for the devastation caused by their migrating swarms. They are mentioned in biblical writings and early Chinese literature, while in the present century they have provoked one of the most massive concentrations of research ever achieved in the field of entomology.
Biological types represented in the Orthoptera include phytophilous, geophilous, cavernicolous, myrmecophilous and burrowing; diurnal and nocturnal; vegetarian and carnivorous. More than 20 000 species are known.
Comprehensive accounts of the order are given by Chopard (1938, 1949b), Beier (1955) and Kevan (1982).
Mandibulate, exopterygote Neoptera, having the hind legs usually saltatorial, with the hind coxae nearly always small and well separated; pronotum with large descending lateral lobes; wing rudiments of nymph reversing their orientation in the later instars.