Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Stenobothrus (Rhammatocerus) viatorius Saussure 1861. Type locality: Orizaba, Veracruz, Mexico
Stenobothrus nobilis Walker 1871. Type locality: Oaxaca, Mexico
Scyllina viatoria (Saussure) L. Bruner 1895
Plectrophorus viatorius (Saussure) McNeill 1897
Plectrotettix patriae Scudder 1901. Type locality: sw. USA [most likely Arizona]
Plectrotettix viatorius (Saussure) J.A.G. Rehn 1903
Plectrotettix calidus Bruner 1904. Type locality: Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico
Plectrotettix excelsus Bruner 1904. Type locality: Tlalpam, Mexico, Mexico
Plectrotettix macneilli Bruner 1904. Type locality: Orizaba, Veracruz, Mexico
Scyllina calidus (Bruner) J.A.G. Rehn 1906
Scyllina patriae (Scudder) W.F. Kirby 1910
Rhammatocerus viatorius (Saussure) J.A.G. Rehn 1940
Rhammatocerus viatorius excelsus (Bruner) Carbonell 1995
Closely related, and perhaps a subspecies of R. viatorius is South American R. schistocercoides:
Scyllina schistocercoides J.A.G. Rehn 1906. Type locality: Chapada, Mato Grosso, Brazil
Scyllina viatoria cyanomera Hebard 1923. Type locality: Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria, Magdalena, Colombia
Rhammatocerus schistocercoides (Rehn) Lecoq & Pierozzi Jr. 1994
Rhammatocerus viatorius cyanomerus (Hebard) Carbonell 1995
from vertex of head to tip of folded wings, approximately:
28-41 mm males
38-55 mm females
Our species is not difficult to recognize. Found from southern Arizona to western Texas. Large in size, relatively slender, with long wings and long slender hind femora. Head with vertex rounded and protruding well in front of eyes, with face sloping back downward. Body shades of gray, brown, or green with a row of large dark spots along sides of folded tegmina, sometimes with pale stripes at top margin of pronotum (bent inward toward middle) with area between them dark (often black) and somewhat hourglass-shaped, but also often with wide paler stripe down the middle (and often extending onto head and top of folded wings), with dark vertical stripe below eye. Hind femora cross-banded with dark on light (diagonal on outer face), with inner face variable in color (whitish, orange, reddish, bluish, etc.). Hind tibiae usually a combination of red/orange (toward base) and blue/purple (toward end), but sometimes all one color. The hind tarsi are usually purplish to blue.
Most similar to genera placed in the "Aulocara Group" here, but those usually are usually proportionately stockier with larger, rounder heads, shorter wings, and stouter hind femora, and/or much smaller in size.
There are some Bird Grasshoppers that look somewhat similar, but those have the face more vertical and have a very prominent spur on the prosternum (between bases of front legs) that is lacking in this species. Also, Schistocerca species with a similarly spotted pattern are not likely to be found in the same region in the U.S. as is this species.
Any similar looking, similarly sized Band-wing Grasshoppers (subfamily Oedipodinae) will be somewhat stockier in proportions (especially width of thorax and depth of hind femora) and a more vertical face, will have the color pattern different in obvious details, and will have more strongly colored hind wings (nearly clear in this R. viatorius).
Mostly south of the U.S. in Mexico and Central America, but occurring north of Mexico from southern Arizona to Trans-Pecos Texas. Replaced in South America by nearly identical R. schistocercoides.
(In the U.S.) usually associated with grassy areas on rocky slopes and in canyon bottoms in lower mountains near the upper edges of Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts.
Adults can occur year-round, but apparently growing and maturing mostly in autumn.
Apparently not documented, but likely Grasses.
Adults may be found year-round, but are most common from late autumn into spring. The life cycle is not well worked out, but if similar to some closely related South American species, probably there is only one long-lived generation per year that matures in autumn and winter and sometimes survives into summer and perhaps even autumn. It is possible that breeding does not occur until warm weather in spring. More study is needed. Winter and spring adults are mostly brown, but green individuals become more commonly seen as hot weather sets in, though adults in general become uncommon after spring.