How to Identify a Jumping Insect

By Tom Crain
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Obviously, because jumping insects move quickly and are hard to hold on to, it can be challenging to identify them. The most common jumping bugs include grasshoppers, katydids, locusts, spittlebugs (froghoppers), crickets and fleas. Insects have two main methods for jumping depending upon the length of their legs. Long-legged bugs use leverage to jump long distances without overexerting while short-legged bugs catapult, using stored energy from muscle contraction. Grasshoppers use a combination of both.

Familiarize yourself with jumping insect groups, such as species and families, prior to going out in the field. You can obtain insect field guides at your local library, nature center or bookstore. Many Internet sites feature color photos of both adult insects and larvae.

Go outside, and take pictures of the jumping insects you see or collect them for more detailed observation.

Observe the environment where you found the insects, and identify the habitat. Gardens, forests, fields, swamps or bodies of water offer good clues to help identify the jumper you found.

Identify the time of day you found the insect active. Many are quite active at midday, such as grasshoppers and locusts, when the temperature peaks; others, such as crickets, are more active at dawn or dusk. Most are busiest at night, such as spiders.

Compile the information you've gathered, and consult your field guide or Internet sites to identify the specific jumper.