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Grasshoppers of Wyoming and the West


Melanoplus bivittatus (Say)

Common name - Two-striped grasshopper (Heifer, 1972).

Geographic distribution - common throughout most of the United States, ranging from Canada to the Gulf but not found along the Atlantic seaboard (Bruner, 1897; Helfer, 1972; Scudder, 1897). In Colorado it is widely distributed (Alexander, 1941).

Colorado Distribution Map

Habitat - found in a variety of habitats, showing a decided preference towards rank and succulent vegetation found in bottom lands, edges of streams, marshes, roadsides, cultivated fields, the margins of woodlands and shaded mountain slopes. Also found associated with areas of open weeds and cultivated habitats, especially cultivated land that has been deserted for a number of years. A major pest in suburban areas (Bruner, 1897; Hart, 1906; Hebard, 1928; Helfer, 1972; Scudder, 1897; Uvarov, 1966).

Food habits - polyphagous in its feeding habits. Although it feeds on both grasses and forbs, it seems to be associated mainly with forbs and does poorly in their absence. In one particular study it preferred stickseed, cheatgrass brome and plants of the mustard family early in the season but preferred lettuce and verbena later in the season. Other preferred foods are needleleaf sedge, sand dropseed, Canadian thistle, common sunflower, vetch, wavyleaf thistle, green barley, oats, wheat kernels in the dough stage, rye, alfalfa, corn silk, cabbage, beets, potatotes, onions and a variety of trees and shrubs. A common pest in vegetable gardens and ornamental plantings (Corkins, 1921; Corkins, 1923a; Gillette, 1904; Helfer,1972; Kumar et al.,1976; Mulkern et al.,1969; Rottman, 1980; Shotwell, 1941).

Eggs - eggs range in color from olive to light or yellowishbrown. Average egg length, 4.45 mm; average diameter,1.2 mm. Females generally deposit one or two egg pods. The number of eggs per pod ranges from 43 to 135, and they are arranged in columns of four within the pod (Drake, 1945; Onsager and Mulkern, 1963; Shotwell,1941; Tuck and Smith, 1939).

Nymph - five to six instars.

Adult - rather large and robustly built, females much larger than males. Coloration is dull olive or greenish-yellow on top; pale yellow to dull greenish-yellow beneath. Face is either yellow or olive-green; top part of head and pronotum are dark olive-brown. Narrow but distinct pale yellowish stripe extends back from side of head behind the eyes, along sides of pronotum to tip of tegmina. On the head and lateral lobes of pronotum these stripes are usually bordered below with black. Dorsal posterior margin of pronotum is curved. Tegmina usually are without spots but occasionally with a few dark spots in the center. Wings are colorless. Tegmina reach or slightly surpass the hind femora and are sometimes a little shorter in the female, tapering regularly and gradually. Hind femora are dull yellow with a dark longitudinal band on the outer face. Inner face is variable. Hind tibiae are variable— reddish, blue, or yellow—and have black spines. Cerci are very short, large, broad and boot shaped. Furculae are very short and triangular and widely separated. Subgenital plate is short and narrow, apex is slightly elevated and somewhat prolonged. Male length, 23 to 29 mm; female, 29 to 40 mm (Blatchley, 1920; Heifer, 1972; Somes, 1914; Uvarov, 1928).

Oviposition - oviposition occurs in a variety of habitats with hard or compact soil, such as roadsides, closely cropped pastures, fence rows, ditch banks, prairie sod and field margins. Alfalfa fields in irrigated valleys are especially attractive oviposition sites as well as the roots of such plants as sunflower, ragweed, lambsquarters and corn stubble. Air temperature must be greater than 70°F for oviposition to occur, and eggs are deposited in soil with moisture contents ranging from 10% to 20% water (Bruner, 1897; Corkins, 1923a; Langford, 1930; Scudder, 1897; Shotwell, 1941).

Seasonal history - in Kansas adults of this species start to appear in June with the nymphs starting to hatch in May. In northern Colorado, nymphs are found from June to September; adults occur from August through October. Eggs are deposited from mid-August to mid-October (Corkins, 1923a).

Migratory tendencies - at times this species has displayed migratory tendencies, but such cases are rare (Corking, 1923a; Scudder, 1897).

Abundance and importance - the most widely distributed, abundant and injurious grasshopper in Colorado. It is a serious agricultural pest attacking cultivated crops including cereals, alfalfa, garden vegetables and grass. It is common in disturbed areas and is the most common urban grasshopper pest in Colorado (Alexander, 1941; Hebard, 1929; Mulkern et al., 1969; Scudder, 1897; Uvarov, 1928).

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

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