What Is The Difference between Locusts and Grasshoppers?

What is the main difference between locusts and grasshoppers? Locusts have long and strong wings for a long-distance flight while grasshoppers have thin and tough front wings ideal for short-distant flights.

Class Insecta is the largest in the arthropod phylum. These invertebrates have bodies divided into the head, thorax, and abdomen. These creatures also have three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and one pair of antennae. The chitin exoskeleton help to differentiate between various species of insects in the world.

Locusts and grasshoppers are excellent examples of class Insecta. But telling the difference between grasshopper and locust can be challenging for some people.  This article provides a detailed insight into the differences between locusts and grasshoppers in a tabular form for easier understanding.

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Difference Between Locust and Grasshopper With Table

Basic terms Locust Grasshopper
Lower classification They belong to suborder Caelifera. They belong to the family Acrididae.
Size They are smaller in body size. They are comparatively larger in body size.
Number of families They belong to a single-family. They belong to 28 distinctive families.
Behavior They are solitary insects that merge into swarms during favorable conditions. They are mainly solitary insects.
Color They are brown in color but immature gregarious is pink in color and turns to yellow when mature. They are found in olive green or brown in color.
Distance covered They can fly for long distances. They fly over a short distance.
What they feed on They majorly feed on crops and vegetation. They majorly feed on grass.
Wings They have long and strong wings. They have thin and tough wings.

What Is a Locust?

A locust is a type of large, migratory grasshopper belonging to the family Acrididae. Unlike ordinary grasshoppers, locusts have the ability to undergo a physiological and behavioral transformation known as “gregarious behavior” or “swarming.” This transformation leads to the formation of massive swarms of locusts, which can cause significant agricultural and ecological damage.

Physical Characteristics

  • Size: Locusts are typically larger than ordinary grasshoppers, with adults ranging from 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) in length, although sizes can vary among species.
  • Coloration: Locusts can vary in color, but they often have a brown or greenish-brown body, designed to blend in with their natural environment.
  • Wings: Adult locusts have wings that are well-developed, allowing them to fly over long distances when swarming.

Habitat and Distribution:

  • Global Range: Locusts are found on every continent except Antarctica, with a strong presence in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and parts of the Americas.
  • Habitat: They inhabit a wide range of habitats, including grasslands, savannas, and agricultural fields.

Life Cycle and Behavior:

  • Solitary Phase: Locusts typically exist as solitary individuals with relatively low population densities.
  • Transformation: When environmental conditions become favorable, such as abundant rainfall and vegetation, locusts can undergo a rapid transformation into the gregarious phase.
  • Gregarious Phase: In this phase, locusts exhibit dramatic changes in behavior, morphology, and physiology. They become highly social, forming large swarms that can consist of millions of individuals.
  • Swarming Behavior: Locust swarms are known for their collective movement, voracious feeding, and long-distance flights. They can travel hundreds of miles, devastating crops along their path.
  • Reproduction: During swarming, locusts also reproduce rapidly, laying eggs in moist soil, which later hatch into nymphs that grow into adult locusts.


  • Herbivores: Both solitary and gregarious locusts are herbivorous and primarily feed on vegetation, including crops, grasses, and other green plants.
  • High Consumption Rates: Swarming locusts consume large quantities of vegetation in a short period, posing a significant threat to agriculture.

Economic Impact:

  • Crop Damage: Locust swarms can cause devastating damage to crops, leading to food shortages and economic losses for farmers and communities.
  • Humanitarian Concerns: Locust outbreaks can result in food insecurity and economic hardship for affected regions.

Control and Monitoring:

  • Control Measures: Efforts to control locust swarms include the use of pesticides, biological control methods, and the development of early warning systems to monitor locust population dynamics.
  • International Cooperation: International organizations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, play a crucial role in coordinating locust control efforts.

What Is a Grasshopper?

A grasshopper is a type of insect belonging to the order Orthoptera and the suborder Caelifera. Grasshoppers are known for their characteristic features, including their powerful hind legs, which they use for jumping, and their ability to produce chirping sounds. These insects are herbivorous and play important roles in various ecosystems.

Physical Characteristics:

  • Body Structure: Grasshoppers have elongated bodies divided into three main parts: the head, thorax, and abdomen.
  • Hind Legs: One of the most distinctive features of grasshoppers is their long, powerful hind legs, which are adapted for jumping. These legs allow grasshoppers to leap considerable distances when threatened.
  • Wings: Most grasshopper species have two pairs of wings. The front pair, known as tegmina, are leathery and serve as protective covers for the hind wings, which are membranous and used for flying.
  • Antennae: Grasshoppers have relatively short antennae compared to some other insects

Habitat and Distribution:

  • Global Range: Grasshoppers are found on every continent except Antarctica, with a wide distribution in various habitats.
  • Habitat: They inhabit grasslands, meadows, agricultural fields, forests, and other vegetation-rich environments.

Diet and Feeding Habits:

  • Herbivorous: Grasshoppers are primarily herbivorous, feeding on a variety of plant materials, including leaves, grasses, and crops.
  • Mouthparts: They have chewing mouthparts adapted for consuming plant matter.

Life Cycle and Behavior:

  • Eggs: Female grasshoppers lay their eggs in the soil or in plant tissues, depending on the species.
  • Nymphs: After hatching from eggs, grasshoppers go through a series of nymphal stages. These nymphs resemble miniature adults and undergo several molts before reaching adulthood.
  • Adults: Adult grasshoppers are capable of flight and reproduction. They typically have fully developed wings and are sexually mature.
  • Chirping: Male grasshoppers produce chirping sounds by rubbing their hind legs against their forewings. This sound is used in mating rituals and territory defense.

Ecological Roles:

  • Prey: Grasshoppers serve as important prey for a variety of animals, including birds, reptiles, and other insects.
  • Herbivores: While they can be pests in agricultural settings, grasshoppers also play a role in controlling plant populations in natural ecosystems.

Agricultural Significance:

  • Pest Species: Some grasshopper species can become agricultural pests when their populations grow excessively and they damage crops.

Conservation and Management:

  • Biological Control: Natural predators, parasites, and diseases help regulate grasshopper populations in the wild.
  • Pesticide Use: In agriculture, chemical pesticides may be used to manage grasshopper outbreaks when necessary.

Main Difference between Locust and Grasshopper

  1. A locust belongs to the suborder caelifera while a grasshopper belongs to the family Acrididae.
  2. Locusts have a single-family while grasshoppers have 28 distinct families.
  3. Locusts can both fly and hop while a grasshopper can only hop.
  4. Locusts are small in body size while grasshoppers are comparatively large in body size.
  5. Locusts merge into large swarms during favorable conditions while grasshoppers are generally solitary animals.
  6. Locusts change their body shape, color, form, fertility, and behavior for survival while grasshoppers are not able to change.
  7. Locusts can travel for longer distances while grasshoppers are not able to do so.
  8. Locusts feed on crops and vegetation while grasshoppers majorly feed on grass.
  9. Locusts are brown in color but when in the gregarious state they are pink in color when immature and yellow in color when mature while grasshoppers are found in brown, gray, or green colors.
  10. Locusts exist in migratory and gregarious states while grasshoppers do not.
  11. Locusts can live anywhere where there is vegetation while grasshoppers majorly live in meadows or fields where they can find grass.
  12. Locust is destructive insects while grasshoppers are not destructive insects.

Similarities between Locust and Grasshopper

  1. They both belong to class Insecta.
  2. They both have wings.
  3. They both feed on plant matter.
  4. Both undergo incomplete metamorphosis.
  5. Both have two front wings and two membranous wings in the back.
  6. Both have elongated hind legs for jumping.
  7. Both have strong mandibles on their mouths.
  8. Both have large compound eyes and short antennae.
  9. Both are bugs.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, locusts and grasshoppers are closely related insects that share common characteristics but exhibit significant differences, primarily related to their behavior and ecological impact:


  • Locusts belong to the same family (Acrididae) as grasshoppers but have the unique ability to undergo a transformation from solitary individuals to gregarious swarming behavior.
  • When environmental conditions are favorable, locusts enter the gregarious phase, forming massive swarms that can migrate over long distances and cause extensive damage to vegetation and crops.
  • This swarming behavior and the rapid increase in population during the gregarious phase distinguish locusts from ordinary grasshoppers.


  • Grasshoppers are herbivorous insects belonging to the same order (Orthoptera) as locusts but do not undergo the dramatic transformation seen in locusts.
  • They typically exist as solitary individuals, have shorter hind legs, and do not form large swarms capable of long-distance migration.
  • Grasshoppers play important ecological roles as both herbivores and prey for various animals in their ecosystems.

These differences in behavior and ecological impact make locusts and grasshoppers distinct, with locusts being known for their ability to cause agricultural and economic devastation during outbreaks, while grasshoppers, although they can be pests in certain situations, generally exhibit more stable and solitary behaviors in their natural habitats.

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