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Species Schistocerca nitens - Gray Bird Grasshopper

large green grasshopper nymph - Schistocerca nitens Acrididae? - Schistocerca nitens Img 7216 - Schistocerca nitens - female Gray Bird Grasshopper? - Schistocerca nitens - male ID requested, believe American Bird Grasshopper (Schistocerca americana) - Schistocerca nitens - female Schistocerca nitens - male Gray bird grasshopper - Schistocerca nitens - female Arizona Grasshopper for ID - Schistocerca nitens - 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)
Subfamily Cyrtacanthacridinae (Bird Grasshoppers)
Genus Schistocerca (Bird Grasshoppers)
Species nitens (Gray Bird Grasshopper)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
As currently defined, S. nitens is a wide-ranging variable species with many synonyms. A number of these names have been recombined variously as subspecies of one another. Most of the synonyms are placed under our subspecies nitens. Only the original form of the names are listed here alphabetically by year.
Gryllus nitens Thunberg, 1815. Type locality: Northern America
Gryllus lividus Thunberg, 1824. Type locality: Northern America
Acridium occidentale Scudder, 1869. Type locality: Andes, Peru [invalid name; later homonym of Gryllus occidentalis Thunberg]
Acridium consobrinum Walker, 1870. Type locality: North America?
Acridium luridescens Walker, 1870. Type locality: Honduras
Acridium proprium Walker, 1870. Type locality: Oaxaca, Mexico
Acridium scutellare Walker, 1870. Type locality: Mexico
Acridium semivittatum Walker, 1870. Type locality: Venezuela
Cyrtacanthacris concolor Walker, 1870. Type locality: Mexico
Cyrtacanthacris implecta Walker, 1870. Type locality: west coast of North America
Acridium strenuum Walker, 1870. Type locality: Oaxaca, Mexico
Acridium vitticeps Walker, 1870. Type locality: Oaxaca, Mexico
Acridium vaga Scudder, 1876. Type locality: Guadalupe Island, Baja California, Mexico
Schistocerca aurantia Scudder, 1899. Type locality: Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
Schistocerca australis Scudder, 1899 [replacement name for occidentale Scudder, 1869]
Shistocerca bogotensis Scudder, 1899. Type locality: Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia
Schistocerca carinata Scudder, 1899. Type locality: Gulf of Mexico, Veracruz, Mexico
Schistocerca crocotaria Scudder, 1899. Type locality: Realejo, Chontales, Nicaragua
Schistocerca gracilis Scudder, 1899. Type locality: South America
Schistocerca gulosa Scudder, 1899. Type locality: Demarara, Guyana
Schistocerca maya Scudder, 1899. Type locality: Venis Mecas, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Schistocerca mellea Scudder, 1899. Type locality: Gulf of Mexico, Veracruz, Mexico
Schistocerca perturbans Scudder, 1899. Type locality: Paramaribo, Surinam
Schistocerca pyramidata Scudder, 1899. Type locality: Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico
Schistocerca separata Scudder, 1899. Type locality: Chontales, Nicaragua
Schistocerca sonorensis Scudder, 1899. Type locality: Arizona border, Sonora, Mexico
Schistocera zapoteca Scudder, 1899. Type locality: Venis Mecas, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Schistocerca malachitica Rehn, 1905. Type locality: Turrialba, Costa Rica
Schistocerca boyacae Hebard, 1923. Type locality: Muzo, Boyacá, Colombia
Schistocerca vega [a common mispelling of Schistocerca vaga]

The following are currently recognized as subspecies, and do not occur in North America north of Mexico or the Greater Antilles:
Schistocerca nitens caribbeana Dirsh, 1974. Type locality: Grenada, Windward Islands
Gryllus columbinus Thunberg, 1824. Type locality: St. Bartholomew Island, Leeward Islands [= Gryllus occidentalis Thunberg, 1824, with same type locality. = Schistocerca nitens columbina (Thunberg) Dirsh, 1974]
Schistocerca nitens virginica Dirsh, 1974. Type locality: St. John Island, Virgin Islands
Explanation of Names
In the United States, before 1974, this species was known most commonly under the name Schistocerca vaga; however, there are several older names, which should take priority over the name "vaga", and as currently defined the species is known by the name Schistocerca nitens.
Four subspecies are currently recognized. Only the most widely distributed one occurs in our area, subspecies nitens.
Markings variable, but coloration is in shades of gray and/or brown, and with a pale lower margin to the lateral lobes of the pronotum. Usually rather grizzled looking. Distinctly different looking from all other species with which it can be found, except perhaps S. americana in its easternmost range. S. americana is usually a warmer, yellowish or reddish brown, has usually two distinct dark bars on the side of the pronotum, has a contrasting pale stripe on the lower part of the front wing (when seen folded), and has no dark bars across the top of the hind femora (nearly always present in S. nitens).

Schistocerca nitens (Thunberg)
mostly c. CA to c. & s. TX (+ OK-NV) / to Panama - Map (1)
Varied, but most often found among rank tall herbage, trees, or shrubbery. Not as tied to damp environments as some related species.
yr round in CA-AZ, TX. (BG data) Some adults mature in late spring, many in summer and fall. Often adults are very common in late summer and well into autumn. Some adults will survive through winter into the following spring, at which time they still seem healthy and able to reproduce. So, it is possible to see adults of this species at any time of year.
Apparently a wide variety of plants.
Life Cycle
Apparently overwintering primarily as eggs, hatching over an extended season from spring to late summer (perhaps hatching is related to rainfall events?), and maturing from late spring till late summer or early autumn. Some adults overwinter, and perhaps nymphs too (?). It is possible that southward there are two broods, but this is not clear. In tropical regions south of the U.S., and perhaps in southernmost Texas and coastal California, all stages can be found at most any time of year.
A strong flier, can fly great distances, but tends to fly lower and look more clumsy in flight than most other Schistocerca species (a deceiving impression, as it is far from clumsy in reality).
Will often come to lights at night, sometimes in great numbers.
See Also
Schistocerca americana (Drury)
- Range: e. US
Print References
Dirsh, V. M. 1974. Genus Schistocerca (Acridomorpha, Insecta). Dr. W. Junk B.V. Publishers, The Hague.
Thunberg. 1815. Mémoires de l'Académie impériale des sciences de St. Pétersbourg 5: 236.