Other Common Names
Green-legged Spur-throat Grasshopper
Explanation of Names
Has been confused with the name Melanoplus juvencus, which was given to a Florida species.
viridipes: from the Latin "viridis" (green) + "pes" (foot); probably a reference to the green legs in this species
body length: male 17.5-18.5 mm; female 21.5-25.5 mm
Adult: solid green forelegs & midlegs; black lateral stripe running full length of pronotum; short wings covering less than half of abdomen (this combination of characteristics is diagnostic). Lower half of side of pronotum white, and top of pronotum either all black or black with white patches; adult male cercus triangular and slightly downcurved at tip; subgenital plate with small hump or tubercle in middle of top edge, visible from above as a pale solid half-circle (both characteristics are diagnostic); hind femur usually with distinct brown or black markings.
Dendrotettix and Appalachia usually have more extensive brown on hind femur; a prominent black line along mid-line of pronotum; wing pads separated over back; or, (sometimes in Dendrotettix) wings fully developed.
Melanoplus gracilis has plain, usually green hind femora; wing pads smaller, oval, widely separated.
Booneacris has no wings.
eastern Minnesota through Wisconsin, Michigan, and southern Ontario to Vermont and western Massachusetts, south to northern Georgia and Arkansas, west to eastern Nebraska
on ground or low vegetation in open woods or wood edges
nymphs mature rapidly in the spring, with adults May to mid-August
one generation per year; overwinters as an egg
Otte (2002) recognizes 12 species in the "Viridipes Group":
M. acrophilus Hebard. northeast Georgia and northwest North Carolina
M. beameri Hebard. near Kansas City in Missouri and Kansas
M. benni Otte. in north Michigan and Wisconsin, perhaps south to south Indiana
M. cherokee Hebard. west edge of North Carolina
M. deceptus Morse. adjacent parts of Tennessee, Georgia, North and South Carolina
M. eurycercus Hebard. Michigan to western Virginia and northward; including southern Ontario. Traditionally treated as the eastern subspecies of Melanoplus viridipes.
M. hubelli Hebard. south Indiana and Ohio to north Georgia and eastward
M. lilianae Otte. eastern Iowa
M. longicornis Saussure. Clayton County, Georgia
M. pachycercus Hebard. western North Carolina and Virginia
M. similis Morse. southern Ohio and West Virginia to northernmost Georgia
M. sylvaticus McNeill. Ozark and Ouachita region of Missouri, Arkansas, probably Oklahoma
M. viridipes Scudder. Minnesota, east Nebraska, Iowa, Illnois, western Indiana, southern Wisconsin
Some of these have been treated as subspecies of M. viridipes, and others have tended to be ignored by authors since Hebard. Due to lack of knowledge about them, and the fact that they do not appear in general literature on grasshoppers, they are not well known. Some are perhaps subspecies of the same species that replace one another geographically. Some occur together in the same place and behave as distinct species. How many real biological species are represented is unclear, and the group needs more study in the field to understand relationships better. They are very difficult to identify from photos alone, but some probably can be, based on coloration and location, especially if the male cerci are shown in the picture.
So far, these are not separated on BugGuide.
Otte included M. gracilis Bruner in his treatment of the Viridipes Group. On the surface, the inclusion implies inclusion in the group, but it is not so included in the Orthoptera Species Files, where it is listed in its own "Gracilis Group". Otte actually included the species for completeness and for comparison (it has been included in the group by previous authors), while also expressing doubt as to any close kinship.
M. gracilis is distinctly different from the rest. Hebard and later Helfer did not include M. gracilis in the Viridipes Group (see Print References below).
The Viridipes and Gracilis Groups are distinctive among Melanoplus and show similarities to the genera Paroxya, Appalachia, Booneacris, and Dendrotettix.
Vickery, V.R., and D.K. Kevan. 1986. The Insects and Arachnids of Canada, Part 14: The Grasshoppers, Crickets, and Related Insects of Canada and Adjacent Regions. 918 pp.
Helfer, Jacques R. 1972. How to Know the Grasshoppers and Allies.
Hebard M. 1918-1937. New Genera and Species of Melanoplini found within the United States (Orthoptera: Acrididae), published in parts in Transactions of the American Entomological Society, and Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Schiences of Philadelphia.
Otte, Daniel. 2002. Review of the Viridipes Group (Acrididae: Melanoplinae), Journal of Orthoptera Research 11(2): 91-118
live adult image
(Insects of Cedar Creek, Minnesota)
presence in Ontario; listing
(Natural Heritage Information Centre, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources)