Orthopterans occur worldwide, except in the coldest areas. 25,300 species have so far been named in 40 families. The order is easily identified by their large hind legs developed for jumping.

The Orthoptera are a group of easily recognised insects. The order is divided into two suborders – Ensifera and Caelifera:


The Caelifera have short antennae with less than 30 segments. Their hearing organs are on the side of the abdomen, and they usually sing by rubbing the inside of their hind legs against their forewing. All are herbivorous and mainly diurnal. The group includes:

  • grasshoppers
  • locusts
  • groundhoppers

The Ensifera all have long thread-like antennae with more than 30 segments, their hearing organs (if present) are at the base of the fore-tibiae, and they sing by rubbing the forewings over each other. The Ensifera are often nocturnal and are generally omnivorous, although some are predatory. The group includes:

  • crickets
  • bush-crickets
  • mole-crickets
  • camel-crickets

The two sub groups share many characteristics:

  • they have enlarged hind legs which are used for jumping
  • In the winged forms the fore wings are toughened to form tegmina, the hind wings are membranous and folded fan like
  • They normally have large well developed compound eyes as well as three ocelli
  • their cerci are normally short and one segmented and their mandibulate mouth parts are designed for biting and chewing

About the name

The Caelifera are named for the shape of the ovipositor, which is short and upcurved like an engraving tool and is from the Latin caelum meaning engraving tool.

The Ensifera are named by the shape of their ovipositor also which is sword shaped and is from the Latin ensifer meaning sword bearer.