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Species Aidemona azteca - Aztec Spur-throat

Dactylotum bicolor nymph or an adult of a different species? - Aidemona azteca Aztec Spur-throat - Aidemona azteca - female Aztec Spur-throat - Aidemona azteca - female Aztec Spur-throat - Aidemona azteca - female Aztec Spur-throat - Aidemona azteca - male brown grasshopper - Aidemona azteca - male Hopper - Aidemona azteca Aztec Spur-throat juvenile - Aidemona azteca - Aidemona azteca
Classification
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 Melanoplinae (Spur-throated Grasshoppers)
Tribe Melanoplini
Genus Aidemona
Species azteca (Aztec Spur-throat)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Aidemona azteca (Saussure)
Orig. Comb: Platyphyma aztecum Saussure, 1861
Explanation of Names
Specimens from Arizona have been referred to the subspecies amrami, which has been considered a distinct species by some authors. The differences are based on details of the shape of the male cerci and aedeagus, and the subspecies are not distinguishable otherwise.
Numbers
2 subspecies
Identification
First four instars distinctive.
Range
AZ to c. TX / Mex. to Columbia (OSF)
Subspecies azteca - central Texas south to Chiapas and Yucatan, mostly east of the deserts and higher mountains.
Subspecies amrami - southern Arizona south along the west side of Mexico to Chiapas.
A. azteca is found in the mountains of Trans-Pecos Texas and southern New Mexico, where it is unclear which subspecies is found (or if they are intermediate in character).
Habitat
Generally prefers mesic disturbed areas.
In southern Arizona it tends to be on the lower levels of the mountains where it is found on sparse vegetation and leaf litter under open woodland, particularly in association with Oaks. I found it most abundant in grassy / weedy patches under trees near the bottoms of arroyos and canyons where the streams would have been flowing - had there been any water. I expect it is the same in Trans-Pecos Texas. I don't know it's preferences further east in the Texas Hill Country. I did not see it in "thick brush" in the west, instead mostly in areas of short but relatively thick (for Arizona) herbaceous growth where there was partial spotty sunlight getting through an open overstory of trees. Almost always near where water runs seasonally. Sometimes individuals were extremely common. -- David J Ferguson
Season
Seen as early as late May in Central Texas (pers. obs. by MQ in Austin, 2008), but most commonly in the fall and overwinter in thick brush along streams (John Stidham, pers. comm., 2007)
Found yr round in AZ (BG data)
Life Cycle
The species mostly matures through the summer and fall, with mostly adults overwintering, but it seems that nearly any age can be present together at the same time, especially in late summer and fall. In winter and spring it seems very rare to find any nymphs at all, and in late summer and early fall adults seem to be quite rare. I get the impression that the timing is less well-defined in central and southern Texas than in in southern Arizona where more sharply defined dry and rainy seasons occur. -- David J. Ferguson

The size and position of the wingpads help determine which instar is pictured. These are described (and more visible) on the Info page for Chortophaga viridifasciata here


1st instar


2nd instar


3rd instar



4th instar


5th instar


adult
Remarks
Often common where found.

I couldn't associate them with any particular single host plant, but the nymphs do seem to be partial to flowers. The coloring of young nymphs seems intriguing, and implies two possibilities. One is that they don't taste good (not true ??). The other is that they are mimicking the "look" of things that sting such as wasps and bees (which seems to be a common occurence in arthropods that like flowers - i.e. spiders, beetles, flies, etc.). Off-hand, I can't think of any other grasshoppers in the US with this sort of coloring in the nymphs, unless they are southern species that I've never seen. Generally cryptic coloring is the rule for Grasshoppers (even Dactylotum is rather inconspicuous in habitat, till it jumps - broken pattern camouflage I think for that one - birds certainly do like Dactylotum). -- David J Ferguson
Print References
Cigliano & D. Otte. 2003. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 129(2): 315 >> Note: Melanoplinae; Phallic complex not like any other known Melanoplinae, key to species; males
Internet References
H. R. Robert's 1947 treatment of the genus is in 'Revision of the Mexican Melanoplini', part I, in Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 99: 201