Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Trimerotropis cyaneipennis Bruner, 1889, from Ogden Canyon, Utah
Trimerotropis cyanea Scudder, 1902, from South Fork Eagle Creek, White Mountains, Arizona; and, Dripping Springs & Fillmore Canyon, Organ Mountains, New Mexico.
Pseudotrimerotropis cyaneipennis Kirby, 1910
*** Trimerotropis fratercula
McNeill, 1901, from Pine Bluffs, Wyoming [Differs in yellow hind wing and usually yellowish hind tibiae - See under Identification
below, and separate entry
for this name.]
Explanation of Names
This species has a wide range and is variable. Those in more northern and western regions have wings mostly rich blue, sometimes even seeming a tad violet, and relatively transparent. Populations in the southeast (Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas) tend to have the wings a bit on the greenish side of blue, and this coloring is more opaque. ***In central and northern New Mexico green takes over and by the time one reaches Colorado (east from the San Juan Mountains) the insects have yellow wings, but still with blue hind tibiae. It is quite obvious that these green and yellow-winged insects with blue hind tibiae represent a transition to yellow-winged T. fratercula, which not too much further north in Colorado has mostly yellowish or sometimes greenish hind tibiae. T. fratercula replaces T. cyaneipennis the rest of the way north through Colorado into Wyoming and Nebraska. Even though it is usually treated as a distinct species, T. fratercula intergrades broadly with T. cyaneipennis and they probably would be better treated as subspecies.
Relatively small species varied in color, but usually with distinct irregular and broken dark cross bands across the tegmina, and an overall irregularly mottled or speckled appearance. Hind tibiae blue or occasionally green. Hind wings broad and green to blue basally, with a dark cross band that is roughly straight on the inner margin, forming a distinct angle with the dark spur that points toward the base near the front of the wing. The band is narrowed toward the spur, and the apex of the wing usually has at least some dark coloring near the tip, but may be entirely clouded with dark color. Produces a moderately loud crackling sound in flight that is made up usually of rapid pairs of "snaps".
Very closely related, and similar except for wing color is T. verruculosa, which is somewhat larger with longer wings; body and tegmina usually more evenly colored, most often very dark brown to blackish; hind wings rich yellow basally, with a similar dark cross band, but most often almost entirely dark to black on the outer half (but not always, sometimes mostly clear past the dark band); often hind tibiae are brownish to black (but sometimes blue, especially in far west and in light individuals elsewhere). Habitats are mostly higher in elevation, often in forested areas. The sound produced is about the same. Hybrids of intermediate appearance are rarely produced between T. cyaneipennis and T. verruculata.
Trimerotropis arizonensis differs in minor details of morphology; slightly smaller size; narrower fastigium; metazona proportionately shorter with margins more rounded into lateral lobes; narrower more transparent wings greenish blue to blue with lighter, narrower dark cross band, transparent apex. Found in hot desert in broken rocky terrain near lower Colorado River. Crepitation is a less loud and harsh pulsed buzz.
Also closely related is T. sparsa, which averages a little larger (at least where the ranges overlap), a little plainer in pattern, and wings are usually proportionately longer and narrower. The hind wings are usually transparent blue, but vary to green and even pale yellow in some restricted regions. The dark wing band is the same shape, but is usually absent to only faintly indicated and cloudy at best, and the part beyond is clear (maybe some darkening of a few veins at most). The hind tibiae are usually yellowish to brownish, not blue. The habitat is usually barren erroded landscapes of bare "dirt", usually clay, shale, adobe, or similar, often with some sort of very open dry scrubby brush or woodland "cover". The sound produced is very similar, but generally not quite so loud, and a bit higher in pitch.
T. leucophaea, found in se. California is very much like T. sparsa in appearance, behavior, and habitat preference, except wings always blue, hind tibiae (?always) blue, and head probortionately a bit larger. It has been confused with T. cyaneipennis in the past, but the two most likely never occur together.
T. occidentalis and T. inyo can be similar, usually lighter in color with the dark tegminal bands narrower. The hind wings are pale, usually decidedly yellowish, and with the dark band faint or at least paler, narrower, and (in T. occidentalis) often appearing more curved. These species occurs west of T. cyaneipennis in California. The sound produced is a less harsh, more rapid, interrupted buzz with more "notes" per "pulse".
T. thalassica usually has a more even and often pale coloration with the dark tegminal bands usually narrower and more clearly defined; it has the top of the folded tegmina usually plain (dark bands not crossing top). Narrower hind wings are usually a paler greenish to bluish, and the dark cross band is narrow, usually faint (even absent), and generally appears more curved. The sound produced in flight is said to be a rapid buzz.
T. pseudofasciata averages larger, with the median ridge of the pronotum strongly raised and bilobed on the front part. There is often a tooth at the lower hind margin of the lateral lobes of the pronotum. Tegmina usually have strongly contrasting narrow cross bands on an overall rather pale ground color. Wings are longer, hind wings narrower, transparent with the usually blue pigment weak, and with dark crossband missing to weakly defined and strongly curving around the outer margin of the wing. Hind tibiae usually bluish, sometimes brownish, rarely yellowish. It is rarely found in the same habitats, but is often abundant in open desert, dune fields, saline or alkaline flats, or along the coast, but in southern California habitats seem much more varied (commonly found on open gravelly slopes, dirt parking lots, etc.). The sound produced in flight is less harsh and loud, and is an interrupted buzz (much as in T. pallidipennis, which is very similar to it in appearance and behavior, and is probably closely related).
Much of the U.S. west of the Great Plains and east of the Sierra Nevada and Cascades. Exact limits depend on how the species is defined, but populations that have been given other names occur along the east and west edges of this area (see Remarks below).
Mostly broken terrain in mountainous regions, and mostly below the Montane forests, often associated with open scrub, Pinyon-Juniper, or Oak woodland. The insects favor steep rocky slopes, and often gather on exposed rocky ground near the base of such slopes. Often canyon bottoms and gravel roads that cut through such areas are good places to look. Less often exposed patches of ground on gentler slopes of hillsides, arroyos, hilltops, etc.
Overwinters as eggs. Adults from June or July to frost, sometimes earlier or very late in hot desert climates, depending apparently on rains.
This is often a common and conspicuous species of rocky places in the lower mountain and canyon areas of the west, where it's blue wings and noisy flight are bound to grab attention. It's habits are such that it is often met in areas frequented by visitors to these areas, such as along trails, in camp grounds, and along gravel roadsides.
It is known to occasionally hybridize with closely related Trimerotropis verruculata producing intermediate individuals.