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Grasshoppers of Wyoming and the West


Melanoplus packardii (Scudder)

Common name - Packard's grasshopper (Heifer, 1972).

Geographic distribution - distributed throughout the Great Plains west of the Mississippi River, north to Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia (Canada) (Criddle, 1933a; Hebard, 1929; Helfer, 1972). In Colorado it is most common in the eastern portion of the state.

Colorado Distribution Map

Habitat - a true prairie species commonly associated with grasses and cultivated fields in areas of sandy soil. Present in the foothills up to elevations of 8,000 ft. and common on the sides and summits of low hills (Criddle, 1 933a; Gillette, 1904; Hebard, 1929; Helfer, 1972; Scudder, 1897).

Food habits - a polyphagous species, exhibiting a preference toward legumes. Alfalfa, western ragweed, leadplant, Artemisia sp., cudweed and slimflower scurfpea are among the highly preferred plants. Blue grama also is consumed (Anderson and Wright, 1952; Criddle, 1933a; Hewitt, 1977; Mulkern et. al., 1964, Mulkern et al., 1969).

Eggs - egg color is variable, ranging from pale tan, brown, yellowish-brown to cream white. Average egg length, 5.18 mm; average diameter, 1.41 mm. Egg pod contains between 17-29 eggs arranged in 2 or 3 columns (Onsager and Mulkern, 1963; Shotwell, 1941; Tuck and Smith, 1939).

Nymph - five instars.

Adult - medium to large size. Color is brownish-yellow or pale reddish-brown and dull, clay yellow underneath. Face is dull yellow. Usually a dark reddish-brown or brown stripe extends from the top of the head along the midline to the posterior margin of the pronotum. Dorsal posterior margin of prototum is curved to a rounded right angle. Below the lateral carinae is a dark stripe that runs from behind the eye and along the anterior two-thirds of the pronotal lobes. Tegmina are slightly longer than tips of hind femora; pale grayish or reddish-brown in color. Wings are colorless. Hind femora are dull yellow. Hind tibiae are whitish-blue or bright red. Cerci are short and spatulate. Furculae are short, divergent and widely separated. Male length, 22 to 30 mm; female, 26 to 33 mm (Blatchley, 1920; Helfer, 1972; Scudder, 1897; Somes, 1914).

Oviposition - preferred sites are cultivated fields, open ledges of soil washed down from a cut bank or a blown sand ridge of a fence row (Criddle, 1933a; Shotwell, 1941).

Seasonal history - in northern Colorado nymphs are found from June through August; adults are found from August through October.

Abundance and importance - an abundant species in Colorado (Hebard, 1929). This grasshopper species has the potential for becoming a serious pest on the range and in cultivated fields such as grain, legumes, cotton and vegetables (Alexander, 1941; Coppock, 1962; Criddle, 1933a; Hebard, 1929; Helfer, 1972).

M. packardii fact sheet from the Field Guide to Common Western Grasshoppers
Next Species: Melanoplus sanguinipes
Previous Species: Melanoplus occidentalis
Biology of Common Colorado Grasshoppers List
Biology of Common Colorado Grasshoppers
Grasshoppers of Colorado Contents

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