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This shed exoskeleton is lodged in a tree where the grasshopper completed its molt.
All arthropods must shed their exoskeleton at intervals in order to grow. The exoskeleton of insects is generally rather hard, and can't stretch to any extent, so the insect can't grow continuously, but must shed the exoskeleton and replace it with a larger one. This is called molting and the amount and type of molt varies from group to group. In some cases, caterpillars for instance, the shed exoskeleton shrinks into a small, irregular mass, but in others, such as grasshoppers, it retains the insect's shape. The stages between molts are called instars. The number of molts is generally 4 to 8, but can be as many as 20 in some insects.
Spotted on Jul 24, 2012
Submitted on Jul 27, 2012
It was a fun find. I knew that all insects have to molt periodically because their exoskeletons are generally rather hard and don't stretch, so they can't grow continuously like we do. They have to replace their exoskeleton at intervals with a larger one. This find was fascinating because the shed exoskeleton retained the exact shape of the grasshopper.
Awesome Joan, I can only echo Mayra, Wow!! This is something I have never seen before, and your notes educated me because I did not know that grasshoppers shed their skin. If I learn nothing else new today, I have at least met my goal of learning something new every day, and this would be it. Keep up the awesome nature spotting.