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Temporal range: early Triassic–recent[1] 250–0 Ma
Pygmy mole cricket (8071068977) cropped.jpg
A pygmy mole-cricket
Tetrigid WG.jpg
A groundhopper
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Clade: Euarthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Orthoptera
Suborder: Caelifera
Ander, 1939

The Caelifera[3] are a sub-order of Orthopteran insects. They include the grasshoppers and grasshopper-like insects, as well as other superfamilies classified with them: the ground-hoppers (Tetrigoidea) and pygmy mole crickets (Tridactyloidea). The latter should not be confused with the mole crickets (Gryllotalpidae), which belong to the other Orthopteran sub-order Ensifera.

Subdivisions and their distribution[edit]

The Caelifera includes some 2,400 valid genera and about 11,000 known species. Many undescribed species probably exist, especially in tropical forests. The Caelifera have a predominantly tropical distribution (as with most Orthoptera) with fewer species known from temperate climate zones. Caelifera are divided into two infraorders: the more basal Tridactylidea and the Acrididea or grasshopper-like species. This latter name is derived from older sources, such as Imms,[4] which placed the "short-horned grasshoppers" and locusts at the family level (Acrididae).


The phylogeny of the Caelifera, is described in detail for grasshoppers, with 6 out of 8 extant superfamilies shown here as a cladogram. Like the Ensifera, Caelifera and all of its superfamilies appear to be monophyletic.[3][8]


Ensifera (crickets, etc.)

[6 superfamilies] Gryllus01.jpg



Tridactyloidea Pygmy mole cricket (8071068977) cropped.jpg

[2 extinct superfamilies]


Tetrigoidea Tetrix subulata 2.JPG


Eumastacoidea Monkey hopper (14795010039).jpg

Pneumoroidea Bladder Grasshopper (Bullacris intermedia) (30068047440).jpg

Pyrgomorphoidea Variegated grasshopper (Zonocerus variegatus).jpg

Acridoidea etc. SGR laying.jpg

Economic significance and terminology[edit]

A number of species, especially in the Acridoidea, are significant agricultural pests, but not all of them are locusts: a non-taxonomic term referring to species whose populations which may change morphologically when crowded and show swarming behaviour.[9] Examples of agricultural grasshopper pests that are not called locusts include the Senegalese grasshopper and certain species in the Pyrgomorphidae, notably the variegated grasshopper (Zonocerus variegatus).


  1. ^ Zeuner, F. E. (1939). Fossil Orthoptera Ensifera. British Museum Natural History. OCLC 1514958. 
  2. ^ ITIS: Caelifera (retrieved 2 August 2017)
  3. ^ a b Rowell, Hugh; Flook, Paul (2001). "Caelifera: Shorthorned Grasshoppers, Locusts and Relatives". Tree of Life web project. Retrieved 20 July 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Imms AD, rev. Richards OW & Davies RG (1970) A General Textbook of Entomology 9th Ed. Methuen 886 pp.
  5. ^ a b Ragge DR (1965). Grasshoppers, Crickets & Cockroaches of the British Isles. F Warne & Co, London. p. 299. 
  6. ^ ITIS: Acrididea (Retrieved 23/7/2017)
  7. ^ Orthoptera Species File: infraorder Acrididea (Retrieved 20/7/2017)
  8. ^ Flook, P. K.; Rowell, C. H. F. (1997). "The Phylogeny of the Caelifera (Insecta, Orthoptera) as Deduced from mtrRNA Gene Sequences". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 8 (1): 89–103. doi:10.1006/mpev.1997.0412. PMID 9242597. 
  9. ^ Uvarov BP (1966) Grasshoppers & Locusts. A Handbook of General Acridology Cambridge University Press, London 1:481 pp.

External links[edit]