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Insect identification > Orthoptera
The Orthoptera is a large group of insects containing nearly 20,000 species. Many of them are very large and striking in appearance and common names have been given to different families in the order, but none to it as a whole.
The insects of this order are so diverse in structure, appearance and habits that it is difficult to give distinctive characters, but they all have well-developed chewing mouth-parts.
The majority of them have four wings, the front pair being slightly thicker than the others, somewhat leathery in texture, and overlapping more or less when folded.
The hind wings are almost always larger and fold in plaits. In many of the group, however, the wings are lacking or very small in the adults and in this case it is sometimes difficult to tell from these structures whether the insect is a short-winged adult or a nymph in which the wings have not as yet completed their development. The Dermaptera were at one time placed in this order.
In some of the families the hind legs are much developed and the insects have the power of jumping; in others this is not the case and walking and running are their methods of locomotion on the ground. On this basis the order has often been divided into two sections, Cursoria or running Orthoptera, and Saltatoria or leaping Orthoptera.
The Orthoptera may be defined, despite the difficulties above indicated, as
Insects which when adult have mouth-parts for chewing; usually four wings, the front pair thicker than the others; the hind pair larger and folded in plaits when at rest. A pair of cerci is always present. Metamorphosis incomplete.
Many students of the group are of the opinion that the insects included in this order should really be placed in two or three, but at present such a separation seems hardly advisable. Most of the families are quite distinct. The group is frequently divided into eight or ten families, but for the purposes of this website six will be considered. These are: