Species Schistocerca lineata - Spotted Bird Grasshopper
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 Cyrtacanthacridinae (Bird Grasshoppers)
Genus Schistocerca (Bird Grasshoppers)
Species lineata (Spotted Bird Grasshopper)
Other Common Names
Lined Bird Grasshopper
Sand Bird Grasshopper
Plains Bird Grasshopper
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Acridium emarginata Scudder, 1872 [nomen oblitum]. Type locality: banks of Platte River, Nebraska
Schistocerca lineata Scudder, 1899 [nomen protectum]. Type locality: Barber County, Kansas
Schistocerca venusta Scudder, 1899. Type locality: Indio California (by later lectotype designation of Rehn & Hebard, 1912)
guide slightly narrowing toward apex, slightly curved
Schistocerca scudderi Bruner, 1906 [superfluous replacement name]
Schistocerca alutacea lineata (Scudder) Dirsh, 1974
Schistocerca emarginata (Scudder) Vickery & D.K.M. Kevan, 1986
Male. Medium size (TL 32-50 mm), Female. Much larger than Male (TL 45-69 mm).
Yellowish, brownish, or greenish, usually with distinct pits on the thorax and yellowish dots. Usually there are no large contrasting yellowish spots on the sides of the thorax above the hind legs, but some individuals show indications of these. Usually the coloring is distinctly darker on top than on sides, and with a narrow contrasting pale stripe down the back of the head, pronotum and folded tegmina. Only uncommonly is the stripe reduced in intensity, and rarely missing. The tegmina usually do not contrast in color with the rest of the body, but may be somewhat browner in green individuals. The abdomen usually has a row of dark (usually black) dots near the rear edge of the sides of each segment (may be faint or sometimes absent in far western green specimens). The hind femur is nearly plain in color, but most often there are some black dots, and two darker bars across the top (which may be very faint or absent); there is usually a dark to black stripe at the top sides and front edge of the otherwise pale "knee" on the femur. The hind tibiae are usually yellowish, tan, brown, black, or, (in green individuals) red. The front and middle femora of males are distinctly swollen. The antennae are very long.
Distributions of S. lineata and S. alutacea overlap in the Central Lowlands and Northeast, and they can be very similar in appearance; the primary distinctions being in genitalia and less swollen male front and middle femora. S. alutacea generally has a proportionately somewhat smaller head and the pronotum narrows more toward the front. It is usually slightly smaller and "plainer" in coloring; often lacks or nearly lacks yellow dots on the pronotum; and the tegmina are often distinctly darker than the sides of the body; occasionally there is a faint mottling of dark spots on the tegmina that is rarely seen in S. lineata. Mostly S. alutacea is found in moister more heavily vegetated areas. Currently they are treated as distinct but closely related "sibling" species, though they have been treated as subspecies or synonyms in the past.
S. rubiginosa is very similar to S. alutacea in characteristics of male genitalia and in having slender male front and middle femora, but it is more like S. lineata in habitat preference and body proportions. The male cerci are smaller in S. rubiginosa. The tegmina of S. rubiginosa are usually mottled, and the yellow mid-dorsal stripe is usually absent (however, Midwestern and Northeastern S. lineata are often colored the same). Mostly the two do not occur together, with S. rubiginosa displacing S. lineata to the southeast, but there is some overlap where S. rubiginosa has been found in the Midwest and Northeast. It is debated whether S. alutacea and S. rubiginosa are different species or not, but in many characters S. rubiginosa is much more like S. lineata.
Riparian populations of S. lineata on the Great Plains, especially from Kansas and Colorado southward, often contain green individuals with red hind tibiae, but these are otherwise more like the eastern brown populations than the western green "venusta" type. They can be confused with S. obscura, but usually with red (or at least paler) hind tibiae and a plainer brighter, lighter green color pattern.
S. obscura is also very similar, but almost always olive-green in color, with the tegmina plain and darker brown (or somewhat purplish), almost always with contrasting yellow marks on the sides of the thorax, and with dark bars on the hind femora normally contrasting and reaching well down onto the outer faces. The front and middle femora of males are not much swollen, and the hind tibiae are usually purplish to black. S. obscura usually has the lobes of the male subgenital plate distinctly flaring out toward the margins and the notch usually more "V"-shaped, while in S. lineata the lobes are little flaring and the notch is more "U"-shaped. Individuals of S. obscura in the southeast from Virginia and Florida to Louisiana sometimes look a great deal like S. alutacea and S. lineata in patterning, but are typical of S. obscura structure and color, and there are no S. lineata found in that region.
S. albolineata is found in the Southwest, and structurally is much like S. obscura. It is green to blackish, usually with contrasting cream to yellow markings on the sides of the thorax (including the pronotum) and bold contrasting very dark to black markings (notably on the on the hind femur). It is often found with S. lineata, but favors more broken, arid to semi-arid rocky terrain with thorny scrub or woodland growth.
S. shoshone is very closely related to S. lineata differing in it's plain pattern with few dark markings of any sort. It is usually pale green in color, usually has no pale stripe down the back (though sometimes it is faintly indicated on the pronotum), and the eyes (in life) are usually distinctly rich blue (usually duller and darker in western S. lineata). S. shoshone averages larger in size and occurs mostly in moist riparian environments within hot summer desert areas of the Southwest. Structurally the two "species" cannot be reliably distinguished where they overlap distributions, but they occur as two separate entities that sometimes may be found side by side yet remain distinct from one another, and can be distinguished by coloring and habitat preference. Generally when in the same area, S. shoshone will be dominant in the irrigated and riparian bottomlands, and S. lineata will be in well-vegetated or sandy areas up out of the valleys. Apparently they have been hybridized in captivity to produce fertile offspring, but this doesn't seem to be properly documented in literature (???). Occasional wild specimens appear intermediate and are difficult to place, implying that some gene exchange between the two may occur naturally as well?
This is the most widely distributed species of Schistocerca in North America, occurring from California, Oregon, and Washington east to the northern U.S. Atlantic Coast, and from southern Canada to Texas and northern Mexico. There are differences quoted in the literature as to it's eastern limits, probably based entirely on confusion between S. lineata and other species.
Song examined specimens collected from Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Its distribution extends north to Manitoba and Alberta, Canada. (From internet source #1)
To this list can also be added: Alberta, Baja California, California, Chihuahua, Louisiana, Manitoba, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Saskatchewan, Sonora, Washington, West Virginia, and perhaps others.
Often abundant in sandy areas but is also frequently found in other sunny, well-vegetated habitats such as shrubland, riparian areas, ditch-banks, etc. Rarely found in forested or desert environments, but enters these areas where acceptable habitats occur with them.
Overwinters as eggs in soil, hatches in late spring, and usually matures in about June or July. Most abundant as adults in summer, but many live until hard freezes of autumn or early winter finally kill them. Some individuals in far south survive until the following spring, but not so often seen in winter as are some other species.
In Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico the "typical
" form blends with the green western form
that was formerly most often known as S. venusta
; with green "venusta
" occurring mostly in and west of the Rockies, and typical brownish "lineata
" eastward from the mountains. Southward, the venusta
type overlaps distribution with S. shoshone
, yet remains distinct, and behave as a species biologically separate from it.
There is an "aposematic form
", which is yellowish with contrasting dark, often blackish or bluish markings that is found in Oklahoma and Texas (and perhaps in adjacent Tamaulipas), and which is given it's own heading here. In fact there seem to be two distinct aposematic forms that differ in color pattern. Intermediates between "normal" coloring and the "aposematic" form are not uncommon, and may resemble S. obscura
; however, the contrasting yellowish and dark coloring, and often blue eyes (along with swollen front and middle femora in males) are usually enough to separate them from that species. This form has also been confused with S. albolineata
, but occurs further to the east, and is different in color pattern and morphology.
In the norteastern U.S. there is a form in which the coloring is often much like that of S. rubiginosa
, but with the morphology of S. lineata
. This northeatern form
tends to be rather smallish with wings shorter than average, and seems to favor open sandy habitats in places such as pine barrens and along the coast. Inland, it is difficult to decide where this form ends and "typical" lineata
begins. There is probably also confusion with both S. alutacea
and S. rubiginosa