Common field grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus)

GenusChorthippus (1)
SizeLength: 18 - 24 mm (2)

Common (1).

This is probably the most frequently seen grasshopper; it is fairly large and occurs in a very wide range of colours including green, brown and purple, usually with a variable amount of black, brown or grey mottling (3). The tough forewings, which protect the delicate membranous hind wings, are long, and in common with all Chorthippus species, have a bulge near their base. Most individuals have an orange tinge at the tip of the abdomen (3). This species can be identified by the low number of 'stridulatory' pegs on the legs used to produce the very characteristic song (4).

Common throughout Britain (1), and found throughout Europe including the Iberian Peninsula. It is more common in the north of its range (4).

Occurs in a range of dry, grassy habitats (1). It is often common in dry parkland, roadsides and waste ground (3).

This grasshopper is a strong flier, and is active in warm weather (3); on warm days it can frequently be seen sunning itself on walls, bare ground and paths (1). The song consists of chirps lasting half a second long. Males often chirp at each other in turn; these 'rivalry' songs are very characteristic of the species (4) (5). During courtship they produce a 'ticking' sound when paired with a female (3). These sounds are produced by 'stridulation', in which the hindlegs are scraped against veins on the forewing (6).

During summer, females lay a large egg pod containing up to 15 eggs in dry ground just below the surface, or sometimes in anthills. The eggs, which are the overwintering stage (1), hatch in May and adults appear in June. Grasshoppers undergo a type of development known as 'incomplete metamorphosis' in which the larvae, known as 'nymphs', resemble wingless adults, and progress through a series of moults before reaching maturity (6). Adult common field grasshoppers are better able to survive cold weather than many other species of grasshopper, and they can occasionally survive until December (3).

This species is not threatened.

Not relevant.

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Information authenticated by Professor Mike Ritchie of the University of St Andrews, with the support of the British Ecological Society

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (March, 2003)
  2. Sterry, P. (1997) Collins Complete British Wildlife Photoguide. Harper Collins Publishers Ltd, London.
  3. Mahon, A. (1988) Grasshoppers and Bush-crickets. Shire Publications Ltd, Aylesbury.
  4. Ritchie, M. (2004) Pers. comm.
  5. Ragge, D.R. and Reynolds, W.J. (1998) The Songs of the Grasshoppers and Crickets of Western Europe. Harley Books, Colchester.
  6. Marshall, J.A. and Haes, E.C.M. (1988) Grasshoppers and Allied Insects of Great Britain and Ireland. Harley Books, Colchester.