Apparently from Latin caelare, (noun caelatura), to engrave in relief, plus -fer, bearing (Internet searches) (1)--likely refers to the sculptured integument of many in this group. The related term Ensifera means sword-bearing.
The group that contains the insects familiar to most people as grasshoppers. Also includes the Pygmy Mole 'Crickets' (Tridactylidae), which are not closely related to crickets. Characteristics:
back legs large, modified for jumping
antennae usually shorter than body
antennae have fewer than 30 segments (more than 30 in Ensifera)
ovipositor short (not obvious), structural details--4 valves, as opposed to six in Ensifera (see Tree of Life)
auditory organ (tympanum) if present, is on the abdomen (typically on front tibiae in Ensifera)
stridulation (if performed) typically accomplished by rubbing serration of inner surface of hind femur across veins of front wing--mechanism typically involves just the forewings in Ensifera
Feed almost exclusively on plants, though some will scavenge dead plant and animal material at times.
The fungus Entomophaga grylli attacks grasshoppers and is used as a biocontrol Cornell University.
From Greek akris (ακρις)- "locust", using the genitive form akridos (ακριδος) (1).
Arnett (2) lists 5 subfamilies, 117 genera, and 620 species for North America, of which 239 species are in the genus Melanoplus.
Worldwide, there are about 8,000 species (3).
Medium to large orthoptera, familiar due to their diurnal habits, typically open habitat, and propensity to jump. Some species are quite colorful
Characteristics of Acrididae:
pronotum does not extend beyond base of wings
wings usually well-developed, but short (brachypterous) or absent (apterous) in some species, and wing length may be variable within a single species
antennae short, typically about one-half body length, with less than 30 segments
tympana (hearing organs), if present, are on the sides of the first abdominal segment
hind femora greatly enlarged (for jumping), typically about as long as hind wings
ovipositor short and stout
all tarsi have three segments (tarsal formula 3-3-3)
Numbers The Melanoplinae is one of the largest subfamilies of Grasshoppers.
There are 6 (or 7) recognized tribes, all found in the Americas, but with the tribe Podismini (incl. Prumnini) also well represented in Eurasia.
approximately 100 genera, with a majority being Neotropical or primarily so. The status and limits of many genera and even the tribes are difficult to define, are debated, and are still being resolved. Range Holarctic and Neotropical in distribution. The tribes Melanoplinae, Conalcaeini, and Dactylotini are primarily North American; all three are represented north of Mexico. They include most of the genera and species north of Mexico. The tribe Podisminae (+ is primarily Holarctic (North America and Eurasia), with North American species primarily occuring in cold winter northern or mountain regions. The tribes Dichroplini and Jivarini are primarily South American (one or two species of Dichroplini reach north of Mexico).
Habitat Widely varied, but a majority occur associated with vegetation near the ground in sunny open areas. There are many exceptions though (some in barren rocky areas; some in trees; some in shade on the ground or in undergrowth of forests; etc.). Life Cycle North of Mexico (with a few exceptions) there is one annual generation, overwintering occurs as eggs laid in the ground or in some relatively solid substrate (such as wood or dung), hatching sometime in spring or early summer, with adults found sometime from spring to frost. A very few species overwinter in other stages or have more than one generation per year.