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For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
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Family Acrididae - Short-horned Grasshoppers

Blue-winged Grasshopper from Bumble Bee, AZ - Leprus intermedius - female Microtes Nymph? - Conozoa texana - female grasshopper - Mermiria intertexta - male Red-legged Grasshopper - Melanoplus lakinus - female San Gabriel Wrangler Grasshopper - Circotettix splendidus - female Admirable grasshopper - Syrbula admirabilis - male Melanoplus bruneri - female Leprus - female
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)
Other Common Names
Explanation of Names
Acrididae MacLeay 1821
6 subfamilies, 117 genera, and 620 spp. in N.America (incl. ~240 Melanoplus spp.)(1); ~7,000 spp. in ~1430 genera of ~30 subfamilies worldwide(2)
9‒80 mm, most 15‒30 mm
Medium to large, diurnal, typically in open habitat. Some are quite colorful.
pronotum does not extend beyond base of wings
wings usually well-developed, but short (brachypterous) or absent (apterous) in some species, and wing length may be variable within a single species
antennae short, typically about one-half body length, with <30 segments
tympana (hearing organs), if present, are on the sides of the first abdominal segment
hind femora greatly enlarged (for jumping), typically about as long as hind wings
ovipositor short and stout
tarsal formula 3-3-3
The representative images of subfamilies below are arranged so that similar-appearing subfamilies are adjacent.
Most species in grasslands, but some in forests, tundra, aquatic vegetation.
Spring-fall in temperate areas, some species present all year in southern regions
Typically, foliage of forbs, grasses. Some species take a variety of plants, while others are restricted to a few species of closely related plants. They often take dry plant matter from the ground as well, and most will scavenge weak or dead grasshoppers when plant food is scarce.
Life Cycle
Some species have fairly elaborate courtship. Mating itself may take up to one hour, and male may ride on back of female for a period of a day or more, a behavior known as mate guarding. Females oviposit in loose soil (typically), among plant roots, in rotting wood, or even in dung. Clutches consist of 10-60 eggs, and females may lay up to 25 clutches over several weeks. Oviposition typically occurs in late summer, and the egg (as a developing embryo) overwinters. Eggs then hatch in spring. Life cycle is typically one year. A few species overwinter as juveniles (nymphs).
The migratory locust (Schistocerca gregaria) of the Old World is a member of this family. Our species of Schistocerca do not form swarms. The extinct Rocky Mountain Locust (Melanoplus spretus) was a swarming "locust" of the west(3)
See Also
Works Cited
1.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
2.Catalogue of Life
3.Orthoptera of Michigan
Roger Bland. 2003. Michigan State University Extension.