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Grasshoppers of Wyoming and the West

Entomology

Melanoplus foedus (Scudder)

Geographic distribution - found west of the Mississippi River, occurring in Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Montana and the Dakotas (Scudder, 1897). In Colorado it is distributed throughout the eastern portions of the state (Alexander, 1941).

Colorado Distribution Map

Habitat - associated with sandy uplands and dank vegetation of river bottoms. Two subspecies are found in Colorado—M. foedus foedus and M. foedus fluviatalis. M. foedus foedus is common in plains areas while M. foedus fluviatalis is commonly associated with river bottoms (Alexander, 1941; Criddle, 1933a; Scudder, 1897).

Food habits - polyphagous feeder, showing a preference for forbes. In a study conducted in Colorado, M. foedus ate a total of 34 different foods with forbes making up 59% of its diet; grasses, 23%; and arthropod parts, 12%. Major plant species included: ragweed, 9%; nuttall evolvulus, 8%; blue grama, 6%; wavyleaf thistle, 6%; scurfpea, 6%; prairie sandreed, 5%; and fungus, 5%. Other preferred foods are leadplant, cudweed, cheatgrass brome, hairy goldaster, alfalfa, needleandthread, scarlet globemallow, bahia, sand dropseed, milkvetch, prairie sunflower and Russian thistle (Banfill and Brusven, 1973; Hewitt, 1977; Kumar et al.,1976; Mulkern et al., 1969; Ueckert, 1969).

Eggs - eggs deep yellow in color. Average egg length, 4.98 mm; average diameter, 1.16 mm. Egg pod quite variable in structure, usually containing 20 eggs arranged in two or three columns (Onsager and Mulkern, 1963; Tuck and Smith, 1939).

Nymph - five instars.

Adult - medium to large size. Brownish-yellow to red-brown in color. Dorsal posterior margin of pronotum is curved or a rounded right angle. Dark stripe on lateral lobe of pronotum behind eye usually is present. Tegmina are slightly longer than tips of hind femora and are pale grey or red-brown in color. Wings are colorless. Hind tibiae are red. Cerci are short and spatulate. Furculae are short, divergent and widely separated. M. foedus is closely related to and very similar in appearance to M. packardii, and it is generally a bit larger and lighter in color than M. packardii. Stripes on top of pronotum and bands on lateral lobes are absent (Alexander, 1941; Blatchley, 1920; Helfer, 1972; Scudder, 1897; Somes, 1914).

Oviposition - eggs are deposited in semi-soft ground often in cultivated grain fields, stubble fields and in old pocket gopher mounds (Criddle, 1933a).

Seasonal history - adults present from mid-July through mid-September in Colorado (Ueckert, 1969).

Abundance and importance - of little economic importance in grassland habitats (Mulkern et al., 1969).

Next Species: Melanoplus gladstoni
Previous Species: Melanoplus flavidus
Biology of Common Colorado Grasshoppers List
Biology of Common Collorado Grasshoppers
Grasshoppers of Colorado Contents

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