Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University System
Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University
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Differential Grasshopper
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Differential grasshopper,
Melanoplus differentialis (Thomas)
(Orthoptera: Acrididae).
Photo by Drees.

Common Name: Grasshopper
Scientific Name: Melanoplus differentialis (Thomas)
Insect Order: Orthoptera

Description: Adult differential grasshoppers are brown to olive green and yellow and up to 1-3/4 inches long. Some individuals are melanistic (black) in all instars. The hind legs (femora) are enlarged for jumping and are marked with chevron-like black markings.

There are a number of grasshopper species common in Texas, including: the redlegged grasshopper, Melanoplus femurrubrum (DeGeer); the white-whiskered grasshopper, Ageneotettix deorum (Scudder), the bigheaded grasshopper, Aulocara elliotti (Thomas). Other grasshoppers that may be recognized are: the lubber grasshopper, Brachystola magna (Girard); Carolina grasshopper, Dissosteira carolina (Linnaeus); High Plains grasshopper, Dissosteira longipennis (Thomas); twostriped grasshopper, Melanoplus bivittatus (Say); migratory grasshopper, Melanoplus sanguinipes (Fabricius); eastern lubber grasshopper, Romalea guttata (Latreille); and American grasshopper, Schistocerca americana (Drury).

Life Cycle: Winter is spent in the egg stage, or during mild winters as an adult.  Eggs are deposited in 1 inch long packet-like masses or pods 1/2 to 2 inches deep in the soil and sod clumps. Each packet can contain many (over 25) eggs. Eggs are laid in grassy areas of uncultivated land such as roadsides, field margins and pastures. Tiny grasshopper nymphs hatch from eggs in the spring. Nymphs resemble wingless adults and develop (molt) through five or six stages (instars) as they grow larger and develop wing pads.  Nymphs develop into adults in 40 to 60 days.  There is generally one generation per year.

Habitat, Food Source(s), Damage: Most grasshoppers are general feeders on the leaves and stems of many types of plants and cause complete destruction of the plant. When numerous, they can cause injury to a large number of crops including corn, cotton, forage grasses, soybeans and rice. Large numbers of grasshopper nymphs can develop in tall weedy areas, attracting little attention. However, when they become winged adults, they can fly and disperse greater distances, and suddenly appear injuring landscape and vegetable plants in the garden.

Pest Status: One of the most common grasshopper species; large numbers can injure a wide variety of plants. Grasshoppers make excellent fishing bait! They are medically harmless.

Management: Click here for more information.

For additional information, contact your local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent or search for other state Extension offices.

Literature: Metcalf et al. Helfer 1972.

From the book:
Field Guide to Texas Insects,
Drees, B.M. and John Jackman,
Copyright 1999
Gulf Publishing Company,
Houston, Texas

A Field Guide to Common Texas Insects, Bastiaan M. Drees and John A. Jackman.


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