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I've been researching the simanim (signs) for kasher chagav (locusts/grasshoppers) and have found some information but I need some details.

The Yemenites often describe the sign as a ח on the chest of the locust. Is this a coloration sign, or a physical/indentation sign? Some pictures would be very helpful.

Some North African communities mention the wings having either a ח or ב, but again a picture would be more helpful.

Another sign I've heard mentioned is the legs need to raise higher than the body. But this sign applies to most grasshoppers and locusts regardless of species or area.

  • Read Zohar Amar's book on locusts in Judaism: הארבה במסורת ישראל from bar ilan university press – Double AA Jul 6 '18 at 6:28
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I asked R Natan Slifkin your question, he is both a rav and a zoologist and wrote The Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom. He has actively researched locusts and is eating them, see here and there.

He responded as follows

The ח sign is an indentation, not a coloration. I would not regard it as dispositive, though. We know exactly which species has the tradition by Yemenites and North African Jews - the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria (and some also have a tradition for Locusta migratoria).

Regarding the legs being higher than the body, this indeed applies to all species of grasshoppers and locust.

Please see the detailed discussion in the Knowledge Base at the Biblical Museum of Natural History website.

See also here for a relevant article from Zohar Amar on the eating of locusts after the talmudic period.

  • he takes questions? – Dr. Shmuel Jul 6 '18 at 5:03
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    @Shmuel I cannot speak in general terms but I know him and he answered mine – mbloch Jul 6 '18 at 5:04
  • kolhalashon.com/new/Media/… – Dr. Shmuel Jul 6 '18 at 14:59
  • @mbloch Thanks for reaching out to Rabbi Slifkin. It seems to me that neither the legs being higher than the body nor the chet indentation separate out the "Schistocerca gregaria" from any other type of grasshopper or locust. These grasshoppers appear to have a het on their chest 2.bp.blogspot.com/-QP_MhrwKAi4/UBg0fJzPmTI/AAAAAAAAA3s/… – Aaron Jul 6 '18 at 16:07

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