Species Trimerotropis maritima - Seaside Grasshopper
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids)
Suborder Caelifera (Grasshoppers)
Family Acrididae (Short-horned Grasshoppers)
Subfamily Oedipodinae (Band-winged Grasshoppers)
Species maritima (Seaside Grasshopper)
Other Common Names
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Locusta maritima Harris, 1841, from Nantucket, Massachusetts
Trimerotropis maritima interior E. M. Walker, 1898, from Toronto Island, Ontario
Trimerotropis citrina Scudder, 1876, from Dallas, Texas
Trimerotropis rubripes Rehn, 1904, from Rio Grande, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Trimerotropis acta Hebard, 1915, from Miami Beach, Florida
Explanation of Names
In Words by William Whitaker
, "maritima" translates to "of/near/by the sea".
In most areas, a medium-sized speckled grasshopper looking much like the sand it is living on, with reddish hind tibiae and yellow wings crossed by a broad black band is likely to be this species. This species will often crepitate in flight, with the sound being a relatively loud and continuous harsh buzz, a little like running something along the teeth of a comb.
Westward on the Great Plains Trimerotropis agrestis takes over, and is very similar. T. maritima is mainly distinguished from that species by usually having the inside of the hind femur yellowish and crossed by black bands, while it is usualy red, and often with little or no dark coloring in T. agrestis. T. agrestis has more strongly projecting lower rear angles of the pronotum. The distinctions tend to break down where the two "species" meet on the Great Plains, and it will be impossible to reliably place some specimens as one or the other.
Most other similar looking species living on sand in the same region will have a high pronotal crest cut only once (twice in T. maritima), will have better defined dark bands across the tegmina (but these are sometimes developed as aggregations of dots in T. maritima), will be smaller, will have thicker antennae, and/or will have larger dark spots and occur mostly in spring instead of summer/autumn.
Along the shores of the Great Lakes and nearby sand areas, and along the Atlantic Coast north from North Carolina, T. maritima usually has yellowish hind tibiae instead of orange or red, but it's size, habitat, and appearance should make it easy to recognize.
In early literature, there was much confusion between various species of Trimerotropis and Spharagemon with red hind tibiae, and older records for several species are often questionable; many are definitely based on misidentified specimens. This species was often involved.
Atlantic Coast of eastern United States to Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, e. Colorado, and extreme e. Arizona (mostly only sands of river courses in Great Plains and Southwest). Sneaking into Canada in s. Ontario, and into Mexico near the Rio Grande.
Sandy areas, mostly on beaches or in dunes, in sandy pine barrens, on riverine sand bars, in dry sandy washes, or sometimes along sandy dirt roads in old fields, and in similar disturbed sandy places. The key word is "sand".
Varies with latitude, but mostly overwinters as eggs, and adults occur late spring to frost. In some areas eggs may remain under water for some time, and will not hatch until water recedes, and in some seasons the species may not be seen at all, or adults may not mature until autumn. In southern climates all stages may be seen at all seasons, but adults are still most common in summer.
The species level distinction between T. maritima and T. agrestis is probably artificial. The two intergrade where they meet, and intermediate individuals and populations are common on the Great Plains. Generally T. maritima occurs along rivers and washes in low lying areas, while T. agrestis occurs primarily in "blowout" areas in the "sandhills" of the Great Plains. Where the sandhills (dunes) and the riparian sands meet, the two "species" meet and blend. As one moves eastward away from the Rockies, the agrestis types become more ane more like maritima in appearance, and eventually cannot be distinguished anymore as the tallgrass prairie regions are reached. Following the valleys westward, the maritima types vanish near the eastern borders of Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico, but maritima also follows up along the Rio Grande Valley and tributaries into northern New Mexico and appears in pockets along streams into eastern Arizona.
Inland populations of T. maritima consistently have red hind tibiae. They also more often have dark cross bands on the tegmina and tend to have a wider dark band across the hind wings than coastal and Great Lakes populations. These have been called a separate species - Trimerotropis citrina. These have also been called a subspecies. However, it is impossible to draw any lines between them, and specimens from Florida or coastal Virginia might look like "typical" T. citrina while specimens from as far away as Arizona and New Mexico at the opposite end of the species' range may look almost like "typical" T. maritima. It is impossible to reliably segregate even two subspecies from photos, and probably even by examining specimens. The current trend is to call them all simply T. maritima with no distinction made for the name "citrina" or any other segregates.
This is an active and alert species. It will fly long distances if habitats are extensive, but will fly back in circles to the sand it lives on in places like narrow beach strands, sand bars along rivers, or on small patches of dunes. Adults are often seen at bright lights on warm nights.
Capinera, p. 105 & plate 18 (1)
|1.||Field Guide To Grasshoppers, Katydids, And Crickets Of The United States|
John L. Capinera, Ralph D. Scott, Thomas J. Walker. 2004. Cornell University Press.