Oscar, of Port Chalmers School, asks :-

How much food does a grasshopper eat a day?

Graeme White, an insect ecologist in private practice in Christchurch, who has for many years studied tussock grassland insects including grasshoppers, responded.

Most of us eat three meals a day. However, many grasshoppers in New Zealand eat only two meals a day - if they are lucky. You see, grasshoppers like warm weather. If it is not warm for very long, they may get only one meal a day. And if it stays cold, they may not get to feed at all. Yet in hot countries, some grasshoppers eat so much that they become pests.

The amount of food a New Zealand grasshopper eats depends on the kind of grasshopper, how big it is, and whether it is a boy or girl grasshopper (girl grasshoppers eat more because they are bigger). The amount of food also depends on how much time the grasshopper spends sheltering without needing much energy.

A grasshopper needs about 200 meals to eat its own weight in food. Therefore, if it had two meals a day, that would take about 100 days. So the food eaten is not very much. And as there are not always two meals a day, the amount can be even smaller.

When you look at a grasshopper, imagine how many plant leaves might weigh the same as the grasshopper. How small would the pieces be if you cut the leaves into 100 pieces? That is how much your grasshopper can eat in a day.