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Red-legged Grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Red-legged Grasshopper.

 Updated: 2/27/2019; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




Red-Legged Grasshoppers are primary consumers in the food web, feasting on crops as voraciously as the fowl that are trying to devour them.



The Red-legged Grasshopper flies as part of a swarm and when a swarm lands on a field of crops, it can decimate the field leaving the farmer with nothing to harvest. Soybeans, alfalfa, wheat, barley, and other grains are all part of this species' diet. For this reason, the Red-legged Grasshopper is considered an agricultural pest. It is found in wild, natural prairies also, but its appetite for human produce earned it an unsavory reputation.

In addition to its negative impact on food harvest, the Red-Legged Grasshopper can carry immature tapeworms and other bird parasites inside them. When a quail or wild turkey eats an infected grasshopper, those internal tapeworms and parasites transfer to the bird's bloodstream and grow, infecting the bird. Grasshoppers have natural predators that help control their population in the wild. They also die from fungal and bacterial infections as well as parasitic nematodes.

Females lay their fertilized eggs in soil. The numerous eggs hatch the following spring and the nymphs start to feed. Nymphs are miniature versions of adults with less developed wings. After molting, nymphs mature into full-grown adults. This process takes about 3 months. Adults remain active until that coming winter. If the spring season sees heavy rainfall, many eggs do not hatch until drier conditions return. When a dry spring does come around, large outbreaks of the Red-legged Grasshopper follow and are difficult to control.
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Orthoptera
        Family: Acrididae
          Genus: Melanoplus
            Species: femurrubrum
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Melanoplus femurrubrum
Other Name(s): Red-legged Locust
Category: Grasshopper or Cricket
Size (Adult; Length): 15mm to 35mm (0.59in to 1.37in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, black, white, red, pink, green, tan
Descriptors: flying, chirping, buzzing, harmful
Territorial Map
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
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
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
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Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.