Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
tribe Hippisci W. S. Blatchley, 1920
Hippiscus Genus Group Hebard, 1928
group Heliasti Hebard 1937
Hippiscus Genus Group D. Otte, 1984
tribe Hippiscini D. Otte, 1995
Mostly stocky grasshoppers, many species are quite large. The median pronotal ridge (crest) is often very faint and not so well-developed as in most other Oedipodinae. Antennae tend to be very long, especially in males. The tegmina (when folded) in many species have a pair of pale lines along the top edges that often extends forward along the sides of the top of the pronotum. The dark band crossing the hand wing may or may not have a spur, and tends to curve around near or at the outer margin of the wing. It may be replaced by smoky shading in Heliastus. The wings are mostly yellow to red, but in Leprus they are most often greenish to blue, and at least one species of Heliastus has blue wings. Camnula has nearly clear wings with no obvious cross band. The hind tibiae of Hippiscini are usually yellowish to red, but usually in Leprus and occasionally in Cratypedes neglectus they are green or blue. The group is characterized by most species having the posterior lophi of the epiphalus of the male trilobed (not easy to see in the field!). Even though it has been reported otherwise in some books, no species are known to truly crepitate in flight; however, some are so large and powerful as to produce a moderately loud sound just from the air passing over the beating wings.
Most, but not all species overwinter as nymphs and occur as adult in spring.
Species and even generic distinctions can be difficult, particularly west from the Rockies, and some authors have in the past combined the genera Agymnastus, Cratypedes, Pardalophora, Sticthippus, & Xanthippus all under a single genus Hippiscus. Some have divided (or suggested dividing) the same set between two genera (or subgenera), with Pardalophora going under Hippiscus, and the rest under Xanthippus (or Hippiscus subgenus Xanthippus).
At first glance, due to coloration more like members of Trimerotropini, Hadrotettix and Heliastus may seem odd bedfellows here, but based on morphology and behavior they appear to belong.
Camnula shares some traits with the tribe Chortophagini, and with the Old World Locustini [sensu-strictu], and could (?) be misplaced within Hippiscini.