Grasshoppers are wonderfully curious creatures with fascinating behavior and lifestyle.
There are literally thousands of species of grasshoppers, each species with its own unique traits and characteristics.
In this article, we take a look at what grasshoppers eat, and we answer the question of whether grasshoppers eat ants and if so why they do. We also broadly look at the differences in species variations and how this affects their diets.
Do Grasshoppers Eat Ants?
No, grasshoppers don’t eat ants. Grasshoppers are technically vegetarian by nature and in most cases, they’re the ones getting eaten by ants. However, some grasshoppers have omnivorous tendencies so they may consume waste from other animals, or simply just eat other insects.
Stay with us as we take a deeper into the eating habits of grasshoppers and their relationship with ants. We also look at why people might think they have seen grasshoppers eating ants.
Why Do Ants Eat Grasshoppers?
There are a large number of species of ants and some of which are predatory in nature, meaning they actively seek out other insects to eat. These ant species would not only feast on grasshoppers but will also consume a variety of other insect and animal species.
Other ants are carrion-eaters, meaning that they prefer to feed on the deceased carcasses of other insects rather than actively hunt them. This is similar to other animals in the animal kingdom such as vultures, whereby they are technically scavengers and wait for other animals to die before they can swoop in and eat to their fill.
As such, grasshoppers can be prey for predatory ants, especially when they are injured and unable to move or defend themselves. In such cases, a wounded grasshopper will quickly be surrounded by ants who begin to attack and feast on the helpless insect.
The carrion-eater ants on the other hand feed on the bodies of the deceased grasshoppers after their death and simply skip the hassle of ‘hunting’ for potential prey, usually because they lack the capabilities of taking down whole grasshoppers.
Ants have also been observed to consume grasshopper eggs as they are a relatively easy source of nourishment for the ants given that the grasshopper’s eggs are effectively defenseless to any attacks from predatory animals and insects.
What Do Grasshoppers Eat?
To begin with, there are over 18 thousand different species of grasshoppers that exist in various parts of the world. Given this large number, there are bound to be differences in traits and characteristics of each of the different grasshoppers. As such not all grasshoppers have the same diet.
That being said, grasshoppers are, by nature, polyphagous creatures i.e they are able to consume a variety of different foods. So while they are vegetarian by nature they may sometimes display omnivorous characteristics by consuming animal waste or tissue from animals. Despite these omnivorous tendencies, grasshoppers do not actively seek out ants for their consumption.
Although it is rare, cannibalism has also been observed in grasshoppers, especially after they have completed the molting process, where they shed their exoskeleton to grow a new one. Some species consume their old molted skins and it is believed this is done in order to supplement their protein needs.
If you are interested the understanding more about the full lifecycle of grasshoppers, check out this article we have written, The Lifecycle Of Grasshoppers.
Despite these observations, grasshoppers’ diet mainly revolves around plants. In fact, in some parts of the world, they are considered a threat due to the rate at which they consume crops that have been planted by farmers.
In some of the variations of species, such as the African swarming locust, it has been observed that grasshoppers can consume leather and even paper. This however does not account for a major part of their diet and this has not been observed in many other grasshopper species.
Knowing that grasshoppers are capable of eating even leather you might be asking yourself if they are able to bite people. We have written an entire article on the grasshoppers bite if you are interested. The article is called, Do Grasshoppers Bite?
So Do Grasshoppers Eat Any Other Bugs?
While grasshoppers don’t eat ants, they do indulge in consuming other insects, especially those that are significantly smaller than them, such as aphids.
Aphids a very small but it is possible that they could be mistaken for small ants which may be where this question of grasshoppers eating ants originated.
However, they do not actively seek out aphids for sole consumption. Grasshoppers are inadvertently eating the microscopic insects since they’re merely clinging to the vegetation that is being consumed by the insects.
Some grasshoppers such as the common green grasshopper, of the Tettigoniidae brood, have diets that involve the consumption of other small insects such as insect larvae, flies, mosquitos, and more.
So what about the grasshopper and the praying mantis? If you are interested in taking a look at a full comparison of these two insects check out this article we have written, Grasshopper Vs Praying Mantis.
Do Grasshoppers Drink Water?
Like any other living organism on Earth, grasshoppers require hydration in some form or another in order to survive. The necessity of water is the unspoken law of life and there are very few exceptions, if any, to this rule. No living organism can survive without water.
As such, grasshoppers do not directly drink water like you and I would, instead they fulfill their water needs by consuming plant matter like grass which in turn contains the water they need to nourish them and keep them alive. Plant matter like the grass is 85% water and this makes it a viable source of hydration for the grasshoppers.
Sometimes people confuse other water drinking insects, such as katydids, for grasshoppers due to the similarities in their appearance. Katydids do in fact drink water directly, but they are technically in the family of bush crickets.
The difference between grasshoppers are katydids are subtle but you can usually tell based on factors like the size of their antenna as well as the fact that katydids are largely nocturnal insects whereas grasshoppers are diurnal which means that they are daytime creatures that can be observed consuming grass and other plant materials during the day time, especially on sunny days.
The Wrap Up
Grasshoppers do not eat ants, they are by nature vegetarians that may sometimes consume other insects, and animal waste, but they do not hunt nor consume ants as we have already established.