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Species Melanoplus confusus - Pasture Grasshopper

Pasture Grasshopper - Melanoplus confusus - male Melanoplus confusus - male grasshopper - Melanoplus? - Melanoplus confusus - female Melanoplus confusus - male Melanoplus confusus - male Melanoplus confusus - male Melanoplus confusus - male Grasshopper - Melanoplus confusus - male - 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 Melanoplinae (Spur-throated Grasshoppers)
Tribe Melanoplini
Genus Melanoplus
Species confusus (Pasture Grasshopper)
Other Common Names
Little Locust
Little Pasture Spur-throated Grasshopper
Identification
Adult: body gray and brown with black patches; underside cream-colored; shiny black patch behind eye on side of head and on pronotal lobe; white diagonal stripe on side of thorax behind pronotum; wings long; outer surface of hind femur with dark diagonal bands; underside of hind femur orange or yellow; hind tibia greenish-blue; characteristic striped eye of nymph may still be present in adult (see photo of adult male and female); male cercus twisted and bent medially (see photo of cerci and furcula)

Nymphs: vary in color from gray to green according to instar; eye with broad dark stripe running diagonally in center, and a narrow light line on each side of this stripe [a diagnostic character]; face nearly vertical and colored tan or green and spotted; usually has a cream-colored crescent on side of head below compound eye, and running onto lobe of pronotum; antennae filiform; (see photos of nymphs)
Range
southern Canada and northern half of United States, south in the midwest to northern Texas; absent in a U-shaped zone from Oregon to California, through southern Texas and gulf states to North Carolina (see distribution map)
Habitat
grass prairies in the west; meadows, pastures, dry sandy wastelands, hillsides, sandy forest clearings in the midwest and east
Season
adults in late spring and early summer (mid-June to mid-August)
nymphs from early May to late June
Food
nymphs and adults feed on forbs and grasses
Life Cycle
nymphs hatch in early May and develop through five instars in 40-46 days; adult male usually approaches the female and when close enough, pounces on her and attaches his genitalia; after attachment he jerks his hind femora forward and backward, and his body from side to side for about one minute; a clutch of 10-15 eggs is laid on bare ground in the soil to a depth of about 3 cm; the female then withdraws her abdomen and briefly brushes over the exit hole with her ovipositor before walking away
[adapted from text at U. of Wyoming]
Remarks
The Pasture Grasshopper occurs in low densities early in the season when vegetation is green and abundant, causing little or no economic damage.
See Also
The Lakin Grasshopper is very similar except for a pale stripe on top of the head and pronotum. It is a southern midwest species that doesn't occur in Canada (see distribution map).
A number of other Melanoplus species are similar; the Pasture Grasshopper's specific combination of body characteristics [listed in the Identification section above] plus geographical distribution and/or habitat is usually sufficient to distinguish this species (see links to several other species)
Internet References
images of adults, nymphs, eggs plus description, common name reference [Pasture Grasshopper], distribution, biology, habitat, food plants, habits, references (U. of Wyoming)
preserved adult and nymph images (Gerald Fauske, North Dakota State U.)
pinned adult images of male (Insects of Cedar Creek, Minnesota)
drawings of characteristic features of nymph and adult (USDA)
seasonal occurrence graph of nymphs and adults in North Dakota (W.J. Cushing et al, USDA)
presence in Michigan; list plus common name reference [Little Locust] (Mark O'Brien, U. of Michigan)
presence and habitat in Ontario (Jeff Skevington et al, Insects of North Lambton, courtesy U. of Guelph, Ontario)
common name reference [Little Pasture Spur-throated Grasshopper] (speciesaccounts.org)