Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Machaerocera mexicana Saussure, 1859, described from described from "Mexico calida"
Syns: Oxycoryphus tibialis Walker, 1870, described from Oaxaca, Mexico
Machaerocera sumichrasti Thomas, 1874, described from Mexico
Machaerocera obscura Bruner, 1904, described from Rio Papagaio, Guerrero, Mexico
Machaerocera magna Bruner, 1904, described from Durango or Sinaloa, Mexico
Explanation of Names
Arizona specimens seem to fall close to the original description of M. magna, and are large in size for the species (particularly the females). This makes sense, since Durango and Sinaloa are both closer to Arizona than areas other names were described from.
This is one of the few Oedipodine species in which the intercallary vein of both males and females is absent (females) or ill-defined and broken to the point of being basically absent (males). This has created hesitation among authors as to which subfamily of Grasshoppers it belongs. It has often been put into the catch-all (and unnatural) subfamily Acridinae. Overall morphology, not backed up by molecular evidence, place it in with the Oedipodinae, probably close to Chortophaga.
monotypic genus (Behrstock and Sullivan 2011)
The projecting forehead, and the blue wings make adults of this slender species unmistakable.
se AZ / Mex. to C. Amer. (Behrstock and Sullivan 2011)
described as "rather lush mountain forests" by Daniel Otte, where it "perches on shrubs and low trees along forest margins." In Arizona it is along riparian habitat near the edge of water where grass growth is rank and where there is flood debris consisting of fallen trees and piled branches, logs, mud, and sod. The females favor the debris piles or often perch low on tree trunks, while the males favor the tall grass where they perch on the blades fairly high up in the plants.
Males are active, agile, and difficult to approach, creating blue flashes as they fly between clumps of grass or out onto the sand and gravel bars. The females are seemingly more sluggish, and less inclined to fly, but are masters at diving or jumping out of sight, and will fly as well. No flight crepitation was heard from any, but some sounds were heard that may have been this species stridulating in the grass.
Behrstock, R.A. and P.H. Sullivan. 2011. First records of the grasshopper Machaerocera mexicana
Saussure, 1859 (Orthoptera: Acrididae) from the United States and Sonora, Mexico. Insecta Mundi. 0199: 1-4. Full PDF