Differential Grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Differential Grasshopper.
Updated: 2/27/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The medium-sized Differential Grasshopper is known both for its chevron markings and its destructive appetite.
Most prevalent in the central U.S., this grasshopper has distinguishing stripes on its 'thighs'. The black herringbone pattern is not unique to this species, but it is rare to see on other grasshoppers. Their back legs also have spines on them. They have short, horned antennae and produce a buzzing noise by rubbing their hind wings against their forewings. Their tan and black coloring help them blend in with the tall dry grasses they eat.
This species is well-adapted to urban living and can make a home in empty lots, gardens and overgrown areas. They also live in meadows, grasslands, and other open areas. Females lay eggs in large quantities and the larvae hatch in spring.
Adults are most active in the summer and are social, often moving around with other types of grasshoppers. They can be considered agricultural pests because they feed on crops such as corn, grapes, alfalfa and fruits. Their incessant chewing on plant parts ruins harvests. They also feed on ragweed (an allergen to many people) so they can be beneficial in a sense as well.