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Solid Blue-Black Eyes - Schistocerca lineata - female

Solid Blue-Black Eyes - Schistocerca lineata - Female
Camp Creek, Maricopa County, Arizona, USA
August 30, 2008
Host plant here is Ambrosia ambrosioides (Asteraceae).



I went through a number of specimens (all still fresh) from nw. New Mexico, n. Arizona, and Utah that all look the same as the one in this photo. Interestingly, there was no consistency in the dots on the abdomen. Some individuals don't show them at all, in some they are bluish, and in others they are bold and black. There was not correlation with gender, except that a somewhat higher percentage of males show the dots than females. There was no difference from place to place, with the full range of variation shown in populations through the entire region, though the dots may be more prevalent in the north than in the south. So, it is clearly a useless trait, even though the books make it the distinction between two supposed "species".

Another trait that I thought might be of use is the presence or absence of a yellow spot on the side of the thorax, but this is not constant either, present in most, but less so as one gets toward the Mogollon Rim.

These green ones seem to grade into typical S. lineata on the east side of the Rockies in Colorado, where the green ones favor lush habitats and the brown ones open sandy grassland habitats, but where intermediates are common, and the wrong color sometimes pops up in both groups (green ones occupy a variety of habitats west from the Rockies).

We have green ones here in mountains in central NM that looks pretty much the same, but usually darker. They occurs right alongside of S. shoshone, and are clearly distinct. The males have (usually) more slender front legs, and they have somewhat different external genitalia (they are often close to S. albolineata in character). All very confusing, and things don't always conform to the way the authors of various revisions would have them.

good guess
Coloring is close. However, she is probably S. lineata as the "species" have been defined more recently. The dark spots on the abdomen and the dark coloring of the tegmina (front wings) seem to fit better. However, I'm not confident that the two are really different species, because I see a lot that look almost intermediate between S. shoshone and S. lineata (like this one). Ones that look basically like this one are common all over the west from the Rockies to the coast, and used to be called S. venusta, but Hojun Song [see below] synonymized that name under S. shoshone (I'm not sure if he was correct or not), even though by his definition, most of the specimens that were formerly called that, would be S. lineata. [I'd love to see the type specimen of S. venusta one day.]

This type is having a great summer this year. They are abundant to thick from central Arizona and western New Mexico up through the entirety of the Colorado Plateaus, and I saw them numerous enough to be totally defoliating Tamarisk in central Utah a few weeks ago (which added to the recently released leaf beetles, is making life for Salt Cedar in that part of the world a bit tough lately).

Revision of the Alutacea Group of Genus Schistocerca
(Orthoptera: Acrididae: Cyrtacanthacridinae)
{{Department of Entomology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43212}}
Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 97(3): 420-436 (2004)

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