Identify grasshoppers and crickets with the orthoptera app

Thanks to the orthoptera app, experts and lay people can recognise grasshoppers and crickets without carrying heavy identification keys around. The development of the app was supported by the SNSF's Agora scheme.

The orthoptera app for smart phones and tablets, developed by Matthias Riesen of the Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften in Wädenswil (ZHAW ) in collaboration with orthoptera experts Florin Rutschmann and Christian Roesti of, makes the identification of grasshoppers and crickets simple and interesting. In a first step, the automatic identification of altitude and location acts as a filter to narrow down the number of species. The insect is then identified with the help of a multi-criteria key that makes it possible to enter various characteristics such as the length of the antennae, the size of the body and the veins in the wings.

To write the detailed descriptions available on the orthoptera app for each of the 119 grasshoppers and crickets native to Switzerland and Germany, the experts Florin Rutschmann and Christian Roesti withdrew to a mountain hut. "It was important to us to write our own texts rather than simply copy existing materials," says Rutschmann. The rich selection of images is also the result of their work: they collected them over many years, prepared them for use in the app and added the drawings. In addition to images and text, the app also presents sound recordings of courtship and rival stridulation as well as spontaneous stridulation.

Contributions to science

The application also includes a "digital notebook" to register and export the information on identified animals for further processing in a central fauna database. In this way, everyone can contribute to expanding the existing data pool and to closing knowledge gaps in biodiversity research. Users of the app can always contact experts via the orthoptera forum and twitter to ask questions and send images.

The application has already been downloaded more than 700 times and costs 15 francs. It is available for iOS (iPhone and iPad) as well as Android. At the moment, the app is only available in German, but the language of the identification key can be switched to French, Italian and English. An English version of the orthoptera app is currently in planning.

The project is funded by the SNSF's Agora scheme, which promotes dialogue between researchers and the public.