Difference Between Locust and Grasshopper

Locust vs Grasshopper

Understanding the difference between locust and grasshopper is very important, as there is no defined distinction between the two in terms of taxonomy. However, the difference between these two is primarily based on the behaviour of swarming and the presence of hopper bands. In addition, the population dynamics are directly involved with a particular grasshopper species being a locust species. The stage of the life cycle, abundance of food, number of individuals in the population, behavioural ecology, and morphological indications are the main factors that should be aware of in order to identify a certain grasshopper species as a locust species. Although those factors sound a little scientific and technical, this article intends to present those in a simplified and summarised language. Additionally, the differences are discussed separately.


Locusts are some grasshopper species with the presence of swarming behaviour in a large number of individuals with coloured bands on the abdomen. In fact, the particular phase of the short horned grasshoppers’ lifecycle that shows the swarming behaviours is a locust. Therefore, locust could be regarded as a phase of the lifecycle. It is interesting the way that grasshoppers have a locust stage in the life cycle, as it needs certain factors to be fulfilled such as very high number of breeding, migratory behaviours, and appearance of bands primarily. When there is plenty of food for the grasshoppers, they start to breed at high rates because of the high nutrition. After increasing the population size enormously, easily having more than millions of individuals, their food sources start to worn out rapidly. Therefore, to cover the great demand for food, the whole population start to migrate out from the place of birth. At this time, the swarming behaviour could be seen with few millions of locusts travel from one place to another in search of adequate food sources for the whole population. When they swarm, about 500 square kilometres of the atmosphere is covered, and the largest recorded swarm has covered more than 1,000 square kilometres. Since the agricultural crops are highly nutritional and grow in large areas, locusts identify these as good sources of food, and they damage the crops being serious pests for farmers.


Grasshoppers are distinguished insects of the Order: Orthoptera and Suborder: Caelifera. They are a very highly diversified group of animals with more than 11,000 described species in about 2,400 genera. Grasshoppers are typically tropical animals, but there are some temperate living species, as well. It would be important to state that grasshoppers do not include bush crickets. Therefore, they are sometimes referred as short-horned grasshoppers. Grasshoppers have pinchers or mandibles to cut their food, and they are completely vegetarians with polyphagous food habits. Being polyphagous; that means that they feed on a very high number of plant species. Their females are always larger than the males when the body sizes are compared, and females have an ovipositor that is visible externally. They are noisy animals when they rub their fore and hind wings together. Grasshoppers are served as food in some countries, both raw and cooked.


What is the difference between Locust and Grasshopper?

• There are 11,000 species of grasshoppers while only few of that number would become locust species.

• Grasshopper is the completely developed stage of the lifecycle, but locust is one of the stages of that development.

• There are many requirements to be fulfilled for a grasshopper to have a locust stage. Therefore, locusts could be regarded as dependent of certain factors while grasshoppers are independent of all those factors.

• Locusts occur in millions while grasshoppers do not necessarily occur in very high populations.

• Locusts show swarming behaviours but not the grasshoppers do always swarm.

• Locusts cannot breed, but grasshoppers do breed.

• Grasshoppers may or may not migrate, but locusts migrate always.