The life cycle of a grasshopper must move quickly through a six-week metamorphosis in order to ensure future generations of the species (Snodgrass, 1967). Like many insects grasshoppers engage in direct sexual reproduction. During sexual reproduction the male deposits a spermatophore or sperm packet into the females vagina. The sperm then travels through tiny canals called micropyles before entering the eggs. After fertilization the female uses a set of prongs on her posterior region to deposit her eggs underground. The set of prongs called the ovipositor act as a digging tool that allows the female to deposit her eggs a few centimeters below ground (Snodgrass, 1967).


        The Fertilized eggs remain dormant for up to ten months before hatching in early summer. The newly hatched offspring or nymphs are the first part a six-stage complete hemimetabolous metamorphosis. The term hemimetabolous refers to the fact that all stages of the metamorphosis look like the adult stage or put simply, the babies look like smaller versions of the adults.

         If food is plentiful the young grasshopper will grow and move quickly through the stages of its life. However, the growth of grasshopper poses a curious dilemma. Like most other arthropods the body of the animal is composed of a tough exoskeleton. In the case of the grasshopper this exoskeleton is made primarily of chitin. This body plan differs from most vertebrate animals in that the muscles are connected directly to the hardened skin or cuticula of the organism. It is this armored shell that poses a problem. The insect seems to either be trapped in its nymphal state or doomed to death by compression within its’ own body. Fortunately, grasshoppers and many other arthropods circumvent this problem through a process called molting (Snodgrass, 1967).

         Molting is a process where the insect effectively sheds its outer layer in exchange for a new bigger one. The molting processes are actually what define each of the six stages of a grasshoppers’ life cycle. Each molt marks the start of a new stage so, a grasshopper molts six times in its life. So, how does a grasshopper grow in between molts if its exoskeleton is so rigid? Although the chitinous skin is unyielding the insect is not composed of one solid shell. Instead the body is made up of multiple segments of hard tissue separated and connected by flexible membranes. These membranes stretch and allow for a limited amount of growth before the animal needs to molt and start the process over again (Snodgrass, 1967).

        Once the grasshopper reaches the final fully developed adult stage it is sexually mature and ready to complete the cycle. By this time it is late in the summer season and the grasshoppers have a very short period of time to reproduce before fall weather destroys the generation. To combat this potential problem and expedite the reproductive process male grasshoppers have a special adaptation that allows them to call out to females and attract potential mates. Through a process called stridulation male grasshoppers can produce a sound by rubbing modified parts of their fore wings together (Hugh, 1966). This sound, in addition to crickets and katydids, is the part of the late summer night symphony of chirping commonly heard throughout the United States. However, this sound is not meant for people amusement. The specific noise made by male M. differentialis is unique to the species and individual and is meant as a mating call to females. The females can detect the vibrations through a specialized ear called a tympanum. If lucky, the chirping sound will attract a female and the pair can mate and complete the grasshopper lifecycle.