Grasshoppers can be identified by comparing body traits, such as the length of the wings, presence or absence of hair, or distinct coloration of their abdomens and limbs. Size and habitat also gives important clues to the identity of a species.
A grasshopper is an insect with long back legs used for jumping. A plant-eating insect, it is most often found in areas with low-growing vegetation. It emits a chirping sound to attract other grasshoppers to mate. There are over 500 species of grasshoppers in North America and many look alike, making identification a challenge.
Begin the identification process by learning which grasshoppers occur in the specific area. A good web resource is InsectIdentification.com. The most commonly occurring grasshopper in North America is the common field grasshopper. It can be identified by its large size and mottled brown, green and black coloring. Most have a bright orange spot at the end of the abdomen. It also has fewer noise-producing spines, called stridulatory pegs, on its rear legs than other species.
Red-legged grasshoppers are easy to identify based on their habits and their bright red hind legs. The grasshoppers travel in swarms in the summer months. These grasshoppers and other swarming species are often referred to as locusts.