Valanga irregularis, Family Acrididae
This page contains pictures and information about the Giant Grasshoppers that we found in
the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.
- Giant Grasshoppers male and female
- The Giant Grasshoppers are the largest
grasshoppers in Australia. They also commonly known as Giant Valanga
The Giant Grasshoppers are native to Australia. The adult size vary from
They are very common in Brisbane. We can find these grasshoppers easily on every
board leaf plants in our back yard. They eat
almost all kinds of leaves. In the early morning, we can find them sun bathing on
the trees. At that time they are easy to catch. After they have been warmed
up, they can jump very high and fly away quickly. Notice the spines on their
hind legs, if they are caught by birds or by spider web, they will attack
their predators by their hind legs.
- Female, 90mm
- This colour pattern can be found in our backyard in Eight Mile Plains
- The colour
patterns are also vary within the species. Usually the adults are
greyish green and brown in colour with black dots pattern on forewings. The
colours resemble the plant stem where they usually hide.
- Female, 80mm
- This colour pattern is found in Wishart in the bush along Bulimba Creek.
Its size is about the same as the grasshopper in the above picture, 80mm in
- Male, 60mm
- Male Giant Grasshoppers look similar to the female, except they are
smaller in size.
- The adults insects have four wings, the front
wings, knows as tegmina, is tough and narrow when compare with the hind wings.
At rest, the hind wings folded like a fans, covered and protected by the
tegmina. Their hind wings is usually dray grey in colour, although some are colourless
or light green. The fright is mainly achieved by the broadly opened membranous hind
wings and the tegmina will give only little help.
The young grasshopper, or the nymph, are usually in flash green colour, so
that they are not easily seen when they are feeding on the young leaves.
The nymph in the first picture, feeding on the red leaf plants, is very
easily noticed by its predators, such as birds. However, after moulting, some of
the grasshopper nymphs' body colour will charge to very close to their
The young grasshoppers look similar to the adults except they have no wings. Their size is 5mm for the
first instar to 80mm for the last instar. The nymph are also vary in colour,
some brown or grey colour can be found although not as common as the flash green
colour. Notice that the young nymph has the two dark marks on the top of the
hind femura. The dark marks become lighter in colour in the later instar stages.
- Green last instar found in March, later summer, 80mm.
- Yellow last instar found in August, late winter, 80mm.
- There are seven instar stages from hatch to mature adult. Each time they
moult and then become the larger next instar stage. The last instars have wing buds but still cannot fly. Otherwise, look
exactly as the adults. For both adults and nymph, their hind
legs are highly developed, much stronger and larger than the other four legs.
They are very good in jumping.
- They have large compound eyes and will see you meters away. If you
approach near to them, they try to hide behind the leaf or branches, but
will still peep at you by either one of their large eyes.
Let's get familiar
with the the grasshopper's face. Actually the insect face is not much
different from us. The insect face, like our face, is what "goes
forward" to meet the environment. For most insects, like this grasshopper,
it is equipped with all types of sensory organs. There are eyes to see ,
antennae to touch, smell and taste, mouthparts to taste. The face is responsible
for much of the sensory input into an insect. Let's now look at the each parts
on the grasshopper's face.
Antenna - A pair of jointed appendages located on the head of an insect above
the mouthparts. Antenna is something like our nose but sense more information
than our nose. It perceives odours, touch, humidity, vibration, wind
velocity and direction.
Ocelli - Also known as simple Eyes. Those eyes can only detect light
intensity and not actually see anything. It is believed that they help to find
the sea-level or horizontal during flying. I think we still not exactly sure their
Compound Eye - There are usually two compound eyes, located on each side of
the head. Each eye composes of a number of individual units called ommatidia ,
which is marked by a hexagonal facet. Compound eyes can see shape, colour,
movement, and tell the distance.
Mouthparts - Mouthparts have evolved for special needs for different
insects. They can chew, suck, pierce, lap, and sponge-up their food. Grasshopper
has the most primitive type of mouthparts for chewing. Basically all other types
of mouthparts are evolved from the chewing type. The labrum is suspended
from the clypeus and form the upper lip. Their function is to help keep
food in the mouth. The mandibles are transverse jaws for cutting and
grinding. Behind the mandibles there is the maxillae. The maxillae also
function as a set of jaws for food manipulation. The labium functions as
a lower lip. Maxillary palpus and labial palpus are used for
touching, tasting, and sensing temperature.
For more information on insect body parts, please see the Insect Scientific Page.
- The Giant Grasshoppers can do large damage to plantation. The first picture show
a big hole on a leaf that the Giant Grasshopper consumed within a
morning. The second shows the grasshopper eating the flowers. They will feed
on most kind of flash plant materials.
- They have
strong mouth parts to cut the leaves from the edge. They are mostly solitary, but if condition is favour, such as in nurseries,
they can be very large in number. They can be pest of shrubs and trees in
gardens in Brisbane. Their close relative, within the same family, the Locust Chortoicetes
terminifera is the famous plague which can build up in number, do big
damages and migrate widely over Australia.
- If you
approach near to them, they hide behind the leaf or branches and hardly can
- Last instar Giant Grasshopper nymph
- Body length 60mm
They have a single generation per year. Eggs are 5 mm in length and are laid
in pods up to 90 mm deep in moist soil during early summer. The nymphs go through seven instars
stages over a three months period. They become adults in late summer and autumn.
We have taken some pictures to record their grow in one season. Notice that
those pictures are taken in our back yard during the summer, they are not
necessary the same grasshopper. Although they grew in about the same rate and
about the same size.
- 30mm 18/02/2001
- 80mm 22/03/2001
- The two pictures show the empty skin and the grasshopper just come out from its last moulting.
The grasshopper is hanging on the
plant and waiting for its wings to expand and dry. Notice the body colour is
still pale in colour.
- 80mm 27/03/2001
- After a few days, most part of the body changed to greyish green, the
colour of an adult.
- The adults grasshoppers hibernate during the winter (Australia mid-winter
in July). Actually they are still active in winter, but not as active as in
summer. They still feed on plants and come out for sun bathing during day
time. But spend most of the time in hiding.
- Early spring - mating season.
- Then the female will lay eggs in the soil. The young grasshoppers usually hatch with mid-summer rains, and
than start the next generation.
- 8mm, 08/12/2001, the young Giant Grasshopper and its first meal.
- On early summer 2001, we start to see the young Giant Grasshopper appear
on the plants in our backyard. On a 1 meter high plant, we can easily find
over 20 of them feeding on leaves. However, we also find a praying
mantid and three Lynx
Spiders hunting against them.
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