Most crickets are brown or black without distinct markings, while grasshoppers can be colorful and often have patterned markings. Crickets have oval heads with two long antennae, while grasshoppers have tall heads with shorter antennae. A cricket’s legs will splay outward when viewed from above, but grasshoppers keep their legs tight alongside their body. Crickets will eat almost any type of food, while grasshoppers tend to eat only plants. The last major difference between these insects is their chirping activity. Crickets chirp at dawn and dusk, while grasshoppers make their chirping noises during the daytime.
Are Crickets the Same as Grasshoppers?
Crickets are not the same animal as grasshoppers. Although both crickets and grasshoppers belong to the same insect order, they have different appearances, behavior, and food sources. In this article, the term “crickets” refers to true crickets in the family Gryllidae. This does not include katydids (often called “bush crickets”). The grasshoppers we’ll discuss are from the family Acrididae, which includes locusts and grasshoppers (link to locusts vs. grasshoppers).
7 Differences Between Crickets and Grasshoppers
Whether you’ve found an insect in your home, your yard, or out in the wild, it can be hard to tell at first glance if you’ve discovered a cricket or a grasshopper. Knowing how these insects differ will make telling them apart a breeze. Here’s how to do it:
Size and Color
Crickets are typically tan, brown, or black with hardly any distinct markings. They are often smaller than grasshoppers. An average cricket only grows to be 1 inch (2.5 cm) long. Grasshoppers tend to be multicolored and have patterns on their wings, legs, and abdomen. Common grasshopper species range from gray, brown, and green to bright red, yellow, and orange. Plus, grasshoppers can grow anywhere from 2 to 5 inches long (5–13 cm).
Head and Antennae
Crickets have rounded heads with two long, hair-like antennae sticking out to the sides. In contrast, grasshoppers have tall heads with an oval or rectangular shape to them. The antennae of grasshoppers stick upward from the top of their head, are segmented, and tend to be thicker than cricket antennae. If the jumping insect you’ve found has very long antennae, it’s likely to be a cricket.
Leg Size and Position
Crickets have shorter, thicker hind legs than grasshoppers. When viewed from above, a cricket’s legs are splayed outward, like a frog’s. Grasshoppers’ legs are much longer and thinner. Usually, a grasshopper’s legs form a tall arch with their “knees” above their back. However, a grasshopper will sometimes tuck their legs tight to the sides of the body while at rest. Either way, a grasshopper’s legs do not splay outward the way a cricket’s do.
Wing Size and Shape
Crickets have much smaller wings than grasshoppers. A cricket’s wings are not capable of sustained flight but may be used to assist with hopping. In many cases, you won’t notice a cricket’s wings at all. Their wings lie flat against their backs and are used mostly for chirping. Grasshoppers have long wings that can extend past their bodies when fully developed, as seen in locusts. They also use their wings when hopping and migrating. If you disturb a jumping insect and see it fly with long wings, it’s very likely you found a grasshopper.
Two antenna-like appendages known as cerci protrude from the rear of crickets. Cricket cerci are easy to see poking out in a V shape between the hind legs. Grasshoppers have short, stubby cerci that you may not be able to see. If you can spot two long “rear antennae” on the insect you found, it’s probably a cricket.
Crickets are omnivorous, meaning they eat a range of food types including vegetation, seeds, meat, and other insects. Grasshoppers are herbivorous, meaning they eat only plant material. Since grasshoppers typically only consume plants, you’re more likely to find them perched on leaves and grass blades while they enjoy a meal. Crickets tend to stay close to the ground, eating fungus and fallen seeds. You can often find crickets under rocks or crawling around in the dirt beneath plants and grass blades.
Both crickets and grasshoppers make sounds to communicate. However, the ways they make sound are a bit different. Crickets chirp by rubbing two specific parts of their wings together. In contrast, grasshoppers make a different vibrating sound by rubbing their legs against the hard part of their wings. Because crickets are crepuscular, meaning they are active at dusk and dawn, that is when they will chirp the most. You are more likely to hear a grasshopper making noise during the day, since that is when they are most active.
Do Grasshoppers and Crickets Get Along?
Crickets and grasshoppers often occupy the same areas since they live similar lives. Normally these insects can coexist so long as there are enough resources for both of them.
- Grasshoppers and crickets can live in the same environments.
- So long as there is no competition for food, crickets and grasshoppers can coexist peacefully.
- In a worst-case scenario, lack of food or predation could cause crickets to eat grasshoppers or their eggs.
Overall, crickets and grasshoppers get along just fine. Since crickets are omnivores, they occupy a different part of the food chain than the herbivorous grasshopper. When crickets do eat insects, it is usually small ones like aphids, so crickets are not naturally a threat to grasshoppers.
What are the Differences Between Grasshoppers and Crickets?
Grasshoppers and crickets are commonly confused with their relatives, but both have distinguishing features that will help you determine which one you are looking at.
- Crickets are usually smaller and darker with two noticeable antenna-like appendages at their rear.
- Grasshoppers are larger, more colorful, and do not have noticeable rear-antenna (called cerci).
- Crickets have round heads with two long, thin antennae protruding from the face.
- Grasshoppers have tall, thin heads with short, thick antennae poking out of the top.
- The wings, body, and legs of crickets are shorter than those of a grasshopper.
- Crickets are omnivorous whereas grasshoppers are herbivorous.
- You are most likely to hear crickets chirping at dawn and dusk.
- Grasshoppers chirp during the daytime, between dawn and dusk.
Crickets and grasshoppers often do coexist in natural environments with enough resources. So, if you’re lucky you might find both crickets and grasshoppers in your yard. Whatever insect you find, take a photo if you can—this can make identifying them even easier.