Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Trimerotropis latifasciata Scudder, 1880, from Lake Point, Utah
Trimerotropis laticincta Saussure, 1884, from Texas (probably from somewhere in the Great Plains part of the state)
Trimerotropis snowi Rehn, 1905, from Congress Junction, Arizona
Pseudotrimerotropis laticincta (Saussure) Kirby, 1910
Pseudotrimerotropis latifasciata (Scudder) Kirby, 1910
Pseudotrimerotropis snowi (Rehn) Kirby, 1910
Explanation of Names
There is some debate as to whether this is one or two species. Specimens from the Great Plains usually have no red on the abdomen and the wing band averages a bit narrower than further west. Morphologically and behaviorally they are the same. Plains insects were named Trimerotropis laticincta, and that name is still used by some authors. However, the differences seem inconstant, and the eastern and western forms seem to blend into one another across Wyoming, New Mexico, and southwest Texas. The question needs more study.
Moderately large, brownish, usually with distinct dark bands entirely crossing tegmina, usually these with irregular edges and often somewhat broken, sometimes strongy contrasting, sometimes not. Hind tibiae orange to red. Inner hind femur usually black and reddish, with two pale bands crossing the black; sometimes with black reduced or missing, sometimes covering most of base. Wing very broad, pale yellow basally, with a very wide curved black band (about a third as wide as the wing is long, give or take) and usually very short spur pointing from it toward the base near the front edge of the wing. West and south from the Rockies the top of the abdomen (and in some regions the underside also) is distinctly reddish. Usually produces a relatively harsh, loud, "pulse buzz" (interrupted as apposed to continuous) sound in flight. There is a "collared" form in which the "cheeks", rear part of the pronotum and bands crossing the hind tibiae may be very pale contrasting tan or pinkish, much as in several closely related Spharagemon and Trimerotropis species.
In some habitats this species may have considerably more strongly contrasting markings than usual, and might be confused with T. californica. That species averages smaller. It has a much narrower band across the hind wings, which are usually a richer yellow basally. It has a tooth at the lower rear margin of the lateral lobes of the pronotum. Habitat preference is different (usually gravelly areas - sometimes sand - for T. californica). T. californica produces a continuous harsh buzz in flight (not pulsed).
T. melanoptera is very similar to T. latifasciata, and the two species often occur together in the same areas. The head of that species averages proportionately a little larger, the wings are even broader. The black band is not (or just barely) curved, is usually more than half as wide as the wing is long, and most often has no spur. The inner hind femur is almost entirely black, with some red shading at the base and edges, but with only one pale cross band just shy of the "knee". The entire abdomen and underside of thorax are reddish, often brightly so. Habitat preference and behavior are pretty much the same, but T. melanoptera is more inclined to sit on the ground with it's body held high and abdomen curved down, apparently to show off the red coloring. Seems like a signal that says "come eat me", but there must be a better reason.
Spharagemon equale can appear very similar (especially in the field), but differs in more stocky build with larger head; more prominent (usually) median carina on more roof-like (less flat) top of pronotum. The dark wing band averages narrower, but can be wide enough to be confusing. Commonly (not always) the yellow portion of the hind wing of S. equale looks greenish in flight due to distinctly bluish veins. Usually S. equale favors areas with more relief and more grass cover, but often the two species are found together or in immediately adjacent habitats. In flight, S. equale produces a continuous harsh buzz (not or hardly interrupted).
Populations of T. salina with wide wing bands may appear similar, but usually run a little smaller. They are usually less contrastingly marked, averaging paler in color, with hind tibiae yellow (sometimes brownish; never red). T. salina produces a more rapid, higher-pitched, less harsh sound in flight.
In early literature, there was much confusion between various species of Trimerotropis and Spharagemon with red hind tibiae, and older records for several species are often questionable; many are definitely based on misidentified specimens. This species was often involved.
Widespread from the western Great Plains (Saskatchewan to Texas) and westward to the east side of the Cascades and Sierra Nevada (Washington to California); southward well into interior northern Mexico.
Varies, but nearly always in valley bottoms and flats on silty, caliche, erroded, tilled, or slightly saline soils with sparse vegetation cover. Sometimes it colonizes old mostly unused open gravel roads and parking areas. Often associated with T. salina and/or T. melanoptera. Can become very abundant in disturbed areas such as overgrazed pastures, around watering tanks, on clay banks of canals, roads, etc.
Overwinters as eggs. Adults summer to frost, but most common usually in July and August.
A very active and often difficult to approach grasshopper, noticeable in flight due to coloration and sound produced. Often comes to lights at night, sometimes in large numbers.