Grasshoppers, crickets, katydids and locusts… It is sometimes tricky to call these jumping delicacies by their right name, so we wrote a quick sum up of their differences and we explain you how to recognize them.
All of these insects have the same general characteristics. They have a large body, thin legs and (most of them) large wings. While these insects belong to the same insect family and look quite the same, there is another reason for confusion: the French language. While we say ‘grasshopper’, the French use the word ‘criquet’ and when we use the word ‘cricket’, the french say ‘grillon’. Are you still with us? We won’t confuse you any further; this is why we made an overview to keep the family in order.
English French Dutch
grasshopper criquet sprinkhaan
katydid sauterelle sabelsprinkhaan
locust locuste locust (migratory grasshopper)
cricket grillon krekel
All these insects belong to the orthoptera family order. This name is Greek: ‘orthos' means ‘straight’ and ‘pteron’ means ‘wings’. This family has more then 20.000 members worldwide! There are more then 11.000 grasshopper species, 6400 katydids species, 900 crickets species and 12 locusts species. Almost all of them have a cylindrical body, long hind legs, antennae of different lengths and they can jump.
How to recognise them
From one species to another the difference are minor, but visible when you know what to look for. So, what should we focus on? The first step is to divide them into two groups:
- insect with short antennae (Caelifera): grasshopper, locust and close family.
- insect with large antennae (Ensifera): cricket or a katydid.
While we say ‘grasshopper’, the French use the word ‘criquet’ and when we use the word ‘cricket’, the french say ‘grillon’. Are you still with us?
If you hang in there until here, it’s time to make it a little more challenging: all locusts are grasshoppers, but not all grasshoppers are locusts. In fact, locusts and grasshoppers behave in a different way. Locusts are known for their density-dependent behaviour. For example, the act of swarming (gregarious phase) is the most notable and obvious characteristic that identifies a locust as a subspecies of the grasshopper.
And what about the differences between a cricket and a katydid? Scientists can see the difference between the two types of insects because crickets have three segmented feet, while katydids have four. But, apparently, the difference is easier to hear then to see: while the cricket sound is more musical to the human ear because the sound is pure and low, the katydid song sounds more buzzing, high and less pure.
And the most important question of all: are they all edible? In general it’s safe to assume that insects who have a brown colour are safe to eat. Does the insect have a bright yellow, red or green colour, it’s best to think twice!