This past week my family and I went camping near Bartlett, NH.
As we hiked we noticed so many grasshoppers. As we sat in the tall grasses to take a break, we viewed hundreds of "hoppers" who looked frozen in time, lifeless. Upon closer inspection, we had discovered exoskeletons, or molted bodies, of these insects.
Unlike butterflies, grasshoppers go through an incomplete metamorphosis, where their bodies change gradually. Grasshoppers go through three stages in their life cycle – egg, nymph and adult.
When it’s time to molt, a grasshopper’s body produces hormones that signal it can no longer support its increasing mass. The insect then begins to grow a new exoskeleton inside its old one.
Nymphs molt about five times, each time emerging larger and closer in size to a fully formed adult. In the last stage of molting, the wings are fully grown.
I had never seen these exoskeletons before. It was very interesting to see all the different positions and behaviors expressed by these grasshoppers before their molt.