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Grasshoppers are insects of the suborder Caelifera within the order Orthoptera, which includes crickets and katydids (bush crickets). They are sometimes referred to as short-horned grasshoppers to distinguish them from the katydids, which have much longer antennae. They are probably the oldest living group of chewing herbivorous insects, dating back to the early Triassic around 250 million years ago. Grasshoppers are typically ground-dwelling insects with powerful hind legs which enable them to escape from threats by leaping vigorously. They are hemimetabolous insects (they do not undergo complete metamorphosis) which hatch from an egg into a nymph or "hopper" which undergoes five moults, becoming more similar to the adult insect at each developmental stage. At high population densities and under certain environmental conditions, some grasshopper species can change colour and behaviour and form swarms. Under these circumstances they are known as locusts.
Insects in the group are plant-eaters, with a few species at times becoming serious pests of cereals, vegetables and pasture, especially when they swarm in their millions as locusts and destroy crops over wide areas. They protect themselves from predators by camouflage; when detected, many species attempt to startle the predator with a brilliantly-coloured wing-flash while jumping and (if adult) launching themselves into the air, usually flying for only a short distance. Other species such as the rainbow grasshopper have warning coloration which deters predators. Grasshoppers are affected by parasites and various diseases, and many predatory creatures feed on both nymphs and adults. The eggs are the subject of attack by parasitoids and predators.
The grasshoppers have had a long relationship with humans. Swarms of locusts have had dramatic effects that have changed the course of history, and even in smaller numbers grasshoppers can be serious pests. They are eaten in countries such as Mexico and Indonesia. They feature in art, symbolism and literature.
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