Other Common Names
Lesser Migratory Grasshopper
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Gryllus sanguinipes Fabricius, 1798. Described from America boreali
Pezotettix mexicana Saussure, 1861. Described from Gulf of Mexico, Cordoba, Veracruz, Mexico
Caloptenus bilituratus Walker, 1870. Described from Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Caloptenus scriptus Walker, 1870. Described from Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Caloptenus arcticus Walker, 1870. Described from Arctic America
Caloptenus selectus Walker, 1870. Described from Oaxaca, Mexico
Caloptenus atlanis Riley, 1875. Described from New Hampshire
Melanoplus atlanis (Riley) S.H. Scudder, 1881
Melanoplus arcticus (Walker) Caulfield, 1886
Pezotettix atlanis (Riley) H.A. Hunt, 1886
Melanoplus atlanis coeruleipes Cockerell, 1888
Caloptenus spretus caeruleipes (Cockerell) Cockerell, 1889
Melanoplus affinis S.H. Scudder, 1897. Described from Salt Lake Valley, Utah
Melanoplus intermedius S.H. Scudder, 1897. Described from Yellowstone, Montana
Melanoplus defectus S.H. Scudder, 1897. Described from Grand Junction, Colorado
Melanoplus sierranus Scudder[/i], 1897. Described from Truckee, Nevada County, California
Melanoplus angelicus S.H. Scudder, 1897. Described from Los Angeles, California
Melanoplus scriptus (Walker) Kirby, 1910
Melanoplus mexicaus atlanis (Riley) Hebard, 1917
Dichroplus mexicanus L. Bruner, 1919
Melanoplus mexicanus (Bruner) Hebard, 1928
Melanoplus sanguinipes vulturnus Gurney & Brooks, 1959. Described from Colleton County, South Carolina
Melanoplus sanguinipes (Fabricius) Gurney, 1962
Melanoplus sanguinipes defectus Gurney, 1962
Melanoplus sanguinipes atlanis (Riley) Vickery, 1979
Explanation of Names
The wide range, abundance, and economic importance of this species are reflected in the numerous synonyms that the name Melanoplus sanguinipes bears.
Very similar to several other species, and females in particular can be very difficult to distinguish. This species is best determinded by looking at males, in which the abdomen is only moderately swollen toward the tip. The subgenital plate is somewhat projecting and notched at the tip. The furculae are well developed, slender, pointed. The cerci are wide, slightly upturned apically, sligtly tapering, and rounded at tip. The males and often the females have a lot tubercle on the metasternum. The Hind femur varies in pattern, but usually there are indications of diagonal cross banding on the outer face overlaid on a herringbone pattern. The hind tibiae vary greatly in color, but most often are blue or red. They may also be brown, yellow, orange, pink, purple, or gray.
Nymphs are very much like those of M. femurrubrum, except that the dark bar below the eye is more often missing, and the dark stripe on the outer face of the hind femur is usually crossed completely by a diagonal light band and a light patch near the base.
It should be noted that for this species, some of the photos posted are "best guesses". Most are almost certainly correctly identified, but there remains a chance that some really belong to other "look-alike" species. Males, where the end of the abdomen shows will definitely all be correct, but females are much more difficult.
Tip of male abdomen
Most of North America north of tropics and south of arctic.
A wide range of open sunny areas with hebaceous plant cover.
Will feed on many species of plants, mostly favoring leafy herbaceous dicots. Can be a pest in gardens and crops.
Overwinters as eggs laid in soil. Eggs hatch in spring or after rains in summer, with adults from spring or summer until frost. In some southern regions it seems there can be two broods. In the arid Southwest hatching is sometimes delayed until late in summer after rains come.
McAnelly, M.L. & M.A. Rankin. 1986a. Migration in the grasshopper, Melanoplus sanguinipes (Fab.) I. The capacity for flight in non-swarming populations. Biological Bulletin 170: 368-377.
McAnelly, M.L. & M.A. Rankin. 1986b. Migration in the grasshopper, Melanoplus sanguinipes (Fab.) II. Interactions between flight and reproduction. Biological Bulletin 170: 378-392.