Insect Identification
Insect Identification

Spur-throated Grasshopper - (Melanoplus ponderosus)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 2/5/2014

The popular Spur-Throated Grasshopper is a pest of the highest order, ruining harvests across the Bread Basket of the continent.

Picture of Spur-throated Grasshopper

Spur-Throated Grasshoppers (part of the Short-horned Grasshopper family) are the most common species of grasshopper in all of North America. Noted mostly for the damage that inflict to crops in the Midwest states, the Spur-Throated Grasshopper appears as a yellow, orange or green insect with additional coloring of brown or red. The body may be spectacularly colored in some cases, with bands, spots or blotches throughout and antennas are generally short.

The female of the species tends to lay her eggs (sometimes as many as 20 eggs) straight into the soil, where they will sit over the winter months. One generation is produced per year. These nymphs will then mature early in the summer (all year in the Southern states) and feed through the month of December only to have the process repeated again with new generations the following year.

Sput-Throated Grasshoppers will generally be found in fields and open meadows, traveling from place to place. Their reach may be past the mentioned states, as they have been known to reach as far north as southern Canada and throughout the United States. Research is underway that utilizes deliberate fungal infections that kill this species of grasshopper in an effort to control exploding population numbers.

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Category: Grasshopper or Cricket
Common name: Spur-throated Grasshopper
Scientific Name: Melanoplus ponderosus

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
     Order: Orthoptera
      Family: Acrididae
       Genus: Melanoplus
        Species: ponderosus

Adult Size (Length): 25mm to 45mm (0.98in to 1.77in)

Identifying Colors: green; brown; black

Additional Descriptors: flying, jumping, harmful

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.