Subfamily Gomphocerinae - Slant-faced Grasshoppers
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids)
Suborder Caelifera (Grasshoppers)
Family Acrididae (Short-horned Grasshoppers)
Subfamily Gomphocerinae (Slant-faced Grasshoppers)
Other Common Names
Stridulating Slantfaced Grasshoppers
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Below is a partial listing, primarily of names that have been used for, or that relate to North American genera.
Gomphoceri Fieber, 1853 [as tribe]. Type genus: Gomphocerus Thunberg 1815
Gomphocerinae (Fieber) Uvarov, 1966 [as subfamily]
Gomphoceridae (Fieber) X.-C. Yin, 2003 [as family]
Arcypterinae (Shumakov) X.-C. Yin, 1984 [as subfamily]. Based on tribe Arcypterini Shumakov, 1963. Type genus: Arcyptera Serville, 1838
Arcypteridae (Shumakov) Liu, Jupeng, 1990 [as family]
Chrysochroantinae (Brunner von Wattenwyl) Jacobson, 1905. Based on group Chrysochroantes Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1893. Type genus: Chysochroan Fischer, 1853
Scyllinae Brunner von Wattenwyl, 1893 [as subfamily]. Type genus Scyllina Stål, 1873 (now included within Rhammatocerus Saussure) 1861)
Explanation of Names
Some authors combine the Gomphocerinae (often along with the Oedipodinae) into an expanded subfamily Acridinae, but this is not now in general practice, and results in a rather cumbersome and unnatural grouping. Some use the name Truxalinae (an older name) because the genus Truxalis has a similar stridulatory mechanism; however, Truxalis is closely related to the genus Acrida and it's kin, and not to any Gomphocerinae, so the name Truxalinae is now restricted to include only a few Old World genera; or, it is simply placed as a synonym of a similarly restricted Old World subfamily Acridinae. Total world-wide agreement still has not been reached though, and there are differences as to what is a family, subfamily, and which should be grouped together with what.
The subfamily is divided into groupings of similar genera here for convenience. These are roughly equivalent to tribes, but are not treated as such because they do not match up with those listed on Orthoptera Species Files, and the nomenclature is in a state of flux now. There is a great deal of new information accumulating from molecular studies that challenges many traditional groupings, and also there are few authors who divide the subfamily in the same ways. The groups used here place similar looking species together, and are probably mostly (but not entirely) fairly natural groupings of related genera. (see further comments under the individual groups)
In North America, this is the only group of Grasshoppers in which males (and often females) have a stridulatory file on the inner side of the hind femur, consisting of a row of raised pegs along a raised ridge. This is rubbed up and down against raised veins of the tegmina (front wings) to produce sound. In a few genera or species the stridulatory file is missing, but these otherwise appear like Gomphocerines.
There is no strongly developed tubercle or "spur" between the front legs on the prosternum, but in some genera there is a roughly conical or pyramidal but rather low projection in the same place.
There are a few species of Oedipodinae with clear or nearly clear wings that could be confused with some Gomphocerinae, but they will have (at least on the males) a stridulatory file on a raised "intercallary" vein on the tegmina instead of on the hind femur. In the Oedipodinae, sound is also made by rubbing legs against tegmina, but the placement of the "parts" is opposite.
In many, but not all genera of Gomphocerinae, the head appears rather pointed and has the face slanting backward from the top down; in some strongly so. Also, mostly, the Oedipodinae have more roughened body surfaces above and/or have a prominent raised ridge on the middle of the pronotum (present, but only as a low, often faint raised line on most Gomphocerinae).
The Gomphocerine hind wings are usually clear, sometimes lightly tinted with color (if so, usually bluish or yellowish in ours), with at most some cloudy darkening toward the outer edge. There are few species that are exceptions, with black wings or yellow wings with a black crossband, but these have the heads almost pointed and the face strongly sloping back (unlike any Band-wing Grasshopper species).
World-wide except the Australian region and Antarctica.
Highly varied and occuring in most any environment with green food. However, a majority of species favor sunny meadowy or marshy environments. A smaller but still large group of species (many of those with more rounded vertically oriented heads) tend to favor semi-arid steppes, where they may even prefer to rest on bare ground in favor of vegetation.
Most species utilize Grasses (Poaceae) or related plants as food, but this is a large subfamily with many species, and food preferences cover a wide range of plant groups.
The subfamily is broken into "groups" here that roughly correspond to the "tribes" of some authors (see under Taxonomy at top of page), but these groups are intended mostly as a convenience placing similar looking species together, and may not always represent true relationships. Most genera within a group are likely close relatives, but just as likely some will eventually be shown to be unrelated as more is learned about them. A few genera are somewhat "uncomforatable" among the Gomphocerinae, but posess most of the diagnostic traits of the group. Among them are Acrolophitus, Bootettix, and Ligurotettix. These do not "look" like other Gomphocerines, may not even be Gomphocerines, yet this is where they are currently placed and where they will be found here in BugGuide until more is learned.
NOTE [added Oct. 26, 2014 by David J. Ferguson]: There have been molecular studies published that have included some of our genera, and from which results imply that groupings listed here are indeed not entirely natural. Genera that stand out as "wrongly placed" so far include:
Acrolophitus & Bootettix would appear to be closely related to, or part of the Aulocara Group, but not necessarily to one-another. Intuition says that this is highly unlikely, and more study is needed.
Eritettix & Opiea appear (not surprisingly, since they share many traits in common) to be very closely related to Psoloessa.
Syrbula appears to belong to the Gomphocerus Group (close to Chorthippus). A surprising but not unbelievable result.
Amblytropidia appears to belong to (or close to) an Achurum + Metaleptea + Orphulella + Dichromorpha Grouping, which is unexpected based on general appearance and morphology, yet is not too surprising when all the other related tropical and South American genera are considered.
Amphitornus & Boopedon appear to belong to a unique group including also the Old World genus Ramburiella. Boopedon and Amphitornus seem very different, but a kinship seems reasonable, especially since some species of Ramburiella look rather intermediate in character.
These results would effectively eliminate the Amplytropidia Group as commonly defined and as listed on BugGuide, with all of it's members belonging to other groups.
This is all very interesting and enlightening, even if partly counter-intuitive. However, since no published taxonomic treatments have resulted so far, and since the data are rather preliminary in nature, nothing is rearranged here on BugGuide - yet. One of the most recent studies is cited below under Print References.