Why Do Grasshoppers Have Barbs on Their Legs?

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In the world of insects, there are many anomalies. For the grasshopper, barbs (or spines) have three main reasons for growing on the legs.

Function

  • Spines, which point backward, are used to hold onto surfaces. Due to the large muscle in the hind leg, the insect works the spines to take hold of the surface so it may leap into the air and fly.

Singing

  • Grasshoppers communicate via a high-pitched song. The grasshopper uses up and down movements to cause the barbs to scrape against a raised vein on each front part of the wing. According to Sidney.ars.usda.gov, this movement produces a song or signal peculiar to that species of grasshopper.

Grooming

  • Grasshoppers have a grooming reflex on the front legs that utilize the barbs to clean off cobwebs, leaves or excess dirt. An electrical nerve pulse is used to propel the action, which is initiated by hair on the sternum region.

Anatomy

Species

References

  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Eduardo Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Joel Deluxe Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Robin & Bazylek Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Jason Riedy Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Hernan Vargas Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of tanakawho
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