by Megan Mora Fuentes
July is the quintessential summer month, just full of lush greenery and hot weather, lit by thousands of lightning bugs and backed by a chorus of summer insects. While it might not be the time of year that inspires back-to-school enthusiasm, you can find plenty of summer homeschooling right in your backyard. Check out those summer insects that produce the summer soundtrack of buzzing, trilling, and chirping. A unit study that takes a closer look at grasshoppers and crickets is the perfect fit for laid-back summer homeschooling.
Grasshoppers, Crickets, Noisy Insects, OH MY!
What is the difference between grasshoppers and crickets? Aren’t they fundamentally the same thing? It turns out that there are more differences between the two types of insects than you might think. Check out this article with a handy chart that summarizes the differences between grasshoppers and crickets and offers handy tips to help you tell the two apart.
If grasshoppers and crickets are different bugs, what about grasshoppers and locusts? You’ve probably heard both terms, but may associate them with separate creatures. In reality, grasshoppers and locusts are the same animal, but the different names reflect different states of their being. Locusts are grasshoppers that develop certain behaviors, such as swarming and feasting, under specific conditions. They can actually return to the solitary behaviors associated with grasshoppers when their population decreases.
Studies show that serotonin, a common brain chemical and key hormone that stabilizes our mood, happiness, and feeling of well-being, could be the reason that everyday grasshoppers turn into destructive swarms that have historically–and currently–devastated the economies of whole countries with their crop destruction. Find out more about what makes grasshoppers swarm.
The last time large-scale locust swarms were seen in the United States was 90 years ago, when a midwestern locust swarm decimated millions of acres of crops in Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota in July of 1931.
You can browse a great variety of grasshopper and cricket science experiments and activities in this blog post from Growing With Science. Build your own cricket condo, learn how crickets and grasshoppers jump and sing, find recommendations for fiction and non-fiction books about crickets and grasshoppers, and more.