Hemolymph, or hemolymph, is a fluid, analogous to the blood in vertebrates, that circulates in the interior of the arthropod body remaining in direct contact with the animal's tissues. It is composed of a fluid plasma in which hemolymph cells called hemocytes are suspended. In addition to hemocytes, the plasma also contains many chemicals. It is the major tissue type of the open circulatory system characteristic of arthropods. Besides, some non-arthropods such as mollusks possess a hemolymphatic circulatory system.
In the grasshopper, the closed portion of the system consists of tubular hearts and an aorta running along the dorsal side of the insect. The hearts pump hemolymph into the sinuses of the hemocoel where exchanges of materials take place. The volume of hemolymph needed for such a system is kept to a minimum by a reduction in the size of the body cavity. The hemocoel is divided into chambers called sinuses.
Coordinated movements of the body muscles gradually bring the hemolymph back to the dorsal sinus surrounding the hearts. Between contractions, tiny valves in the wall of the hearts open and allow hemolymph to enter. Hemolymph fills all of the interior (the hemocoel) of the animal's body and surrounds all cells. It contains hemocyanin, a copper-based protein that turns blue when oxygenated, instead of the iron-based hemoglobin in red blood cells found in vertebrates, giving hemolymph a blue-green color rather than the red color of vertebrate blood. When not oxygenated, hemolymph quickly loses its color and appears grey.
The hemolymph of lower arthropods, including most insects, is not used for oxygen transport because these animals respirate through other means, such as tracheas, but it does contain nutrients such as proteins and sugars. Muscular movements by the animal during locomotion can facilitate hemolymph movement, but diverting flow from one area to another is limited. When the heart relaxes, blood is drawn back toward the heart through open-ended pores called Ostia. Note that the term "Ostia" is not specific to insect circulation; it literally means "doors" or "openings", and must be understood in context.