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Species Spharagemon saxatile - Ledge Grasshopper

Unknown Grasshopper - Spharagemon saxatile - male Spharagemon saxatile - female Spharagemon saxatile - female Chortophaga? - Spharagemon saxatile Spharagemon saxatile? - Spharagemon saxatile - male Spharagemon saxatile? - Spharagemon saxatile - male Spharagemon saxatile  - Spharagemon saxatile - female Spharagemon saxatile  - Spharagemon saxatile - female
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 Oedipodinae (Band-winged Grasshoppers)
Tribe Trimerotropini
Genus Spharagemon
Species saxatile (Ledge Grasshopper)
Other Common Names
Ledge Locust
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Spharagemon saxatile Morse, 1894, Blue Hill, Massachusetts
Spharagemon saxatile ssp. planum Morse, 1904, described from Wyethville, Virginia
Spharagemon planum (Morse) Blatchley, 1920
Size
males about 30 mm
females about 40 mm
Identification
Basically identical to Spharagemon equale, but with inner hind femur usually yellow (usually orange in S. equale) with three black cross bars more strongly developed.

Northern insects that have been called subspecies saxatile have the median crest on the metazona of the pronotum somewhat more distinct, with the rear edge of the portion in front of the cut often overlapping the front edge of the portion behind. More southern insects that have been called subspecies planum) have a lower pronotal crest with the cut more vertical. The distinction sounds obvious, but in practice it is hard to apply many insects from most any population (but especially from places like Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland) to one name or the other.

Likely to be confused only with other species of Spharagemon. However, Trimerotropis maritima is somewhat similar, but with the top of the pronotum more flattened, with the median ridge low and strongly twice cut (once or only slightly notched a second time in S. saxatile); the lower rear margins of the sides of the pronotum usually have a bit of a projection or tooth; and the habitat is usually sandy lowland areas.

Spharagemon collare and S. bolli have the pronotal crest more strongly elevated (decidedly lower in S. saxatile, and especially so on the metazona. S. bolli usually has a distinct dark ring near the base of the hind tibiae. S. collare is usually found in different sandy environments.

S. marmorata has the pronotal crest even lower, and the top of the pronotum is flatter with more pronounced sharp edges forming "shoulders" at the sides. The color pattern is distinctive, with folded tegmina usually with the sides dark with contrasting light patches along the lower margin, while the top may be contrastingly light to equally dark. There is usually a distinct dark ring near the base of the hind tibae.
Range
Broken rocky terrain, mostly in mountains, from eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina northward into Ohio southeastern Quebec, and New England. Should be watched for in far northwestern Georgia as well.
Habitat
Exposed rock outcroppings and ledges, rocky slopes, old quarries, etc. Often in company with S. bolli, but more restricted to sunny rocky sites.
Food
Undocumented, but probably mostly grasses.
Life Cycle
Overwinters as eggs, with adults from late June or July to frost.
Remarks
The names S. saxatile and S. planum have been treated as synonyms, as varieties of one species, and also as distinct species. S. saxatile is perhaps very closely related to S. equale, but is also confusingly similar to S. bolli. These relationships should be studied in more depth.
Print References
(1) 'The Songs of Insects'. At page 182 in this very interesting book is a very good photo of Spharagemon saxatile planum labeled as S. bolli.
(2) 'Orthoptera of North-Eastern America'.
Internet References
At The Songs of Insects, under Grasshoppers, click on "Boll's and Carolina - Spharagamon bolli & Dissosteria carolina", and a recording of the flight crepitation of Spharagemon saxatile planum will play. You will see a picture of the Carolina Grasshopper, but that species does not produce this sort of crepitation (the photo of Spharagemon has been removed). For a photo of the Spharagemon in the printed counterpart of this web site, see "Print References" above.
Works Cited
1.The Songs of Insects
Lang Elliott, Wil Hershberger. 2007. Houghton Mifflin.
2.Orthoptera of North-Eastern America
W. S. Blatchley. 1920. The Nature Publishing Company.