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Grasshoppers of Wyoming and the West

Entomology

Melanoplus confusus (Scudder)

Common name - Little pasture spur-throated grasshopper (Heifer, 1972).

Geographic distribution - found throughout the United States from New England to British Columbia (Canada), south to North Carolina, Oklahoma and Arizona (Heifer, 1972). Its Colorado distribution is primarily the eastern part of the state (Alexander, 1941).

Colorado Distribution Map

Habitat - prefers open locations. Commonly found in pastures, roadsides, borders of cultivated fields and on grass in open woods, especially in areas of sandy or gravelly soil (Blatchley, 1920; Criddle, 1933a; Hebard, 1928; Helter, 1972).

Food habits - polyphagous in its feeding habits but displays a preference toward forbes. In one study it fed on 24 different plants with forbes making up 85% of its diet while grasses contributed 13%. Major foods included prairie spiderwort, 37%; unknown forbes, 13%; sand sagebrush, 12%; wavyleaf thistle, 6%; and western wheatgrass, 6% (Mulkern et al.,1969; Ueckert and Hansen, 1971).

Eggs - eggs deep yellow in color. Average egg length, 4.37 mm; average diameter, 1.13 mm. The egg pod usually contains about 12 eggs arranged in two columns (Onsager and Mulkern, 1963; Tuck and Smith, 1939).

Nymph - five instars.

Adult - medium size. Color is dull yellowish-brown to darkish brown often with a reddish-brown tinge and pale underneath. Top of head and anterior pronotum usually are darker than posterior pronotum. A dark brown median stripe is on top of head, and a pair of posteriorly enlarging stripes are on upper one-third of lateral lobes of pronotum. Dorsal posterior margin of pronotum is curved. Tegmina are rather long and slender and reach or extend beyond tips of hind femora. Wings are colorless. Hind femora are brownish-yellow. Hind tibiae usually are pale blue, pinkish at tip, sometimes red or dull yellow; spines are black. Cerci are basally rectangular; apical portion is bent slightly upward and inward; dorsal margin is rounded and outer face concave; apex is broadly rounded. Furculae are well separated and one-fourth the length of supraanal plate. Subgenital plate is very short and rounded at apex, apical margin is thickened and slightly prolonged. Male length, 16 to 18 mm; female, 19 to 24 mm (Blatchley, 1920; Heifer, 1972; Scudder, 1897).

Seasonal history - among the species that overwinter as eggs, M. confusus is one of the first grasshoppers to appear in the summer in Colorado. The eggs hatch in spring, and the adults start to appear during the first part of June and are present through mid-July (Criddle, 1933a; Hebard, 1929; Helfer,1972; Onsager and Mulkern, 1963; Ueckert and Hansen, 1971).

Abundance and importance - not common in Colorado (Hebard, 1929).

M. confusus fact sheet from the Field Guide to Common Western Grasshoppers
Next Species: Melanoplus differentialis
Previous Species: Melanoplus bowditchi
Biology of Common Colorado Grasshoppers List
Biology of Common Collorado Grasshoppers
Grasshoppers of Colorado Contents

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