Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

"venusta" type

Schistocerca - Schistocerca lineata - female Bird Grasshopper - Schistocerca lineata - male ID please - Schistocerca lineata schistocerca shoshone? - Schistocerca lineata - female Hopper - Schistocerca lineata - female Schistocerca lineata - female Schistocerca lineata. ? - Schistocerca lineata - female Schistocerca lineata? - Schistocerca lineata - female
Classification
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 lineata (Spotted Bird Grasshopper)
No Taxon "venusta" type
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Schistocerca venusta Scudder, 1899, 'The Orthopteran Genus Schistocerca', Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 34(17): 467-8. Type locality: designated by Rehn & Hebard (1912) as Indio, California.
?Schistocerca obliquata Scudder, 1899. Type locality: San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Identification
May key out to either Schistocerca shoshone (if without dark dots on abdomen) or S. lineata (if with dark dots on abdomen), but most like typical S. lineata in appearance. Green, usually fairly dark on top, lighter on sides, occasionally somewhat yellowish or brownish, with (always?) a bold yellow stripe down the back, yellowish dots on pronotum, and often with one (rarely two) yellow spots on sides behind pronotum. Eyes usually dark dull bluish to dark gray (usually rich blue in S. shoshone). Tegmina plain (without spots), usually olive or brownish, and often somewhat darker than rest of body. Hind tibiae red (occasionally to blackish red or purplish).
These are very similar to "typical" S. lineata from east of the Rockies, but that is usually a somewhat larger stockier insect of sandy and riparian habitats on the Great Plains and in the tall-grass prairie regions. Typical S. lineata is generally of a brownish shade, but green individuals from riparian areas on the Great Plains look very like the western "venusta" in all details (except they tend to be larger, more often lack the large yellow spot on the sides of the thorax, and dark bars often show on top of the hind femur).
S. albolineata is usually (not always) more brownish or nearly black, with (usually) more than one contrasting yellow (or white) marking on the sides, and with the hind femora boldly marked with dark (plain or nearly so in both S. shoshone and S. lineata/venusta).
Range
U.S. west from Rockies, from Oregon and Idaho into Arizona, New Mexico, and perhaps west Texas and northern Mexico. Also along east base of Rockies in Colorado, New Mexico, and probably southernmost Wyoming.
The following localities and quote are taken from Scudder's original 1899 description of Schistocerca venusta:
Oregon - Grant's Pass
California - Gazelle; Tulare; Palm Springs; and Indio
Nevada - Reno
Utah - Wasatch Mts. near Beaver; Palmer; Spring Lake Villa in Utah Co
Arizona - Ft. Buchanan south of Tucson
Texas - no locality given
Mexico - San Luis Potosi; Sierra de San Miguelito
"The specimens, one female each, from the last two localities [in Mexico], differ from
the others in their greater robustness and the brevity of the tegmina,
which scarcely surpass the abdomen; the hind tibiae also are not so bril-
liant red."
Habitat
Varies. It favors rocky sloping or canyon terrain, most often in brush (Oak and other assorted broadleaf species) in southern Arizona and in New Mexico, but in the Colorado Plateaus and Great Basin it also seems to like sand areas much as those S. lineata favors, and riparian areas such as S. shoshone favors.
Food
Primarilay assorted broad-leaved trees and shrubs; often Dune Broom (Parryella), Willow (Salix), Oak Quercus, Salt Cedar (Tamarix, etc.)
Life Cycle
Eggs overwinter in soil, hatch late spring. Adults late spring to frost
Remarks
This represents a creature that in New Mexico, Arizona, and California is sometimes confused with, is found literally alongside of, yet remains distinct from both S. shoshone and S. albolineata.
Most of the specimens key to S. lineata, but some (because the dark dots on the abdomen may be absent) key to S. shoshone. For many years these striped green insects were traditionally called S. venusta, but now they are usually lumped under S. lineata or S. shoshone depending upon the presence or absence of the dark dots on the abdomen. I have found that in one population there may be individuals with no dots, with faded bluish dots, or with bold black dots, all together and mating with one another. They also show structural similarity to S. albolineata and S. obscura (and they are colored somewhat like S. obscura). It seems simplest for now to give them their own category under S. lineata, to which they are most related, and with which they seem to blend to the east in Colorado and New Mexico. They should probably be called Schistocerca lineata subspecies venusta; however, that combination has apparently not yet been legally published.
The name Schistocerca venusta clearly applies to these insects. It was described from a series of specimens from widely scattered localities, and a type locality was later designated as Indio, California. Confusion with S. shoshone and S. lineata is widespread, and the distinction is unclear (are they ecotypes, ecological subspecies, or biologically distinct species?). Current usage lumps them under one of the two other species, without recognizing S. venusta as being distinct.
S. alutacea, lineata, "venusta", shoshone, albolineata, obscura, rubiginosa, and others represent "sibling species" or subspecies of S. alutacea. They are still very confusing and the classification unsatisfactorily resolved, even though they have been revised a few times already. It also is quite possible that the similar striped green insects grouped together here are not all the same, but if true there is no obvious visual means to distinguish them. There is variation (as in most wide-ranging species) with specimens from cooler areas (higher elevations, further north, etc. averaging smaller and perhaps a bit darker and more contrasting in color.
Internet References
Original description of Schistocerca venusta in Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1846). See p. 467-8
live adult image and common name reference [Green Valley Grasshopper] (G. and C. Merker, Visuals Unlimited) as S. shoshone
photos of types of Schistocerca venusta and obliquata (schistocerca.org)
pinned adult images under the names "S. albolineata" and "S. shoshone" (Northern Arizona U.)