Red-Legged Grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum)
Detailing the identifying qualities of the Red-Legged Grasshopper, including physical features and territorial reach.
Updated: 2/10/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Red-Legged Grasshopper are primary consumers in the food web. The feast on crops and are food for hungry fowl.
The Red-Legged Grasshopper flies as part of a swarm and, when they land on crops, they can decimate the field leaving the farmer with nothing to sell. Soybeans, alfalfa, wheat, barley and other grains are all part of this species' diet. For this reason, they are considered an agricultural pest. They are found in wild, natural settings also, but their appetite for human produce has gained them a reputation.
In addition to their negative impact on the food harvest, Red-Legged Grasshoppers can carry immature tapeworms and other wild bird parasites inside them. When a quail or wild turkey eats infected ones, those tapeworms and parasites can transfer to the bird's bloodstream and grow, thereby infecting the bird. Grasshoppers have natural enemies that help control their population in the wild. They can die from fungal or bacterial infections as well as from parasitic nematodes.
Females lay their fertilized eggs in soil. The numerous eggs hatch in the following spring and the nymphs start to feed. They will be full-grown adults in about 3 months and can remain active until that coming winter. If the spring season sees heavy rainfall, many eggs won't hatch. Dry springs, on the other hand beget large outbreaks that are difficult to control.