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Differential Grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Differential Grasshopper



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The medium-sized Differential Grasshopper is known both for its chevron markings and its destructive appetite.



Updated: 09/23/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Most prevalent in the central U.S., this grasshopper has distinguishing chevron stripes on its 'thighs'. The black pattern is not unique to this species, but it is rare to see on other grasshoppers. The back legs also have spines on them. Like other grasshoppers, this one has short, horned antennae and produces a buzzing noise by rubbing the hind wings against the forewings. The tan and black coloring helps it blend in with the tall dry grasses that 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.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Harmful insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Orthoptera
        Family: Acrididae
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          Genus: Melanoplus
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            Species: differentialis
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Melanoplus differentialis
Category: Grasshopper or Cricket
Size (Adult; Length): 28mm to 44mm (1.10" to 1.73")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: beige, black, ivory, green, white, yellow/ pink
Descriptors: stripes, chevrons, spines, harmful

Differential-Grasshopper Video(s)




Differential Grasshopper beginning to hide from a Bold Jumping Spider.
Differential Grasshopper chilling on a tomato plant.
A Differential Grasshopper showing off its hops.
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 28mm and 44mm
Lo: 28mm
Md: 36mm
Hi: 44mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
State of Arkansas graphic
State of California graphic
State of Colorado graphic
State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
State of Georgia graphic
State of Idaho graphic
State of Illinois graphic
State of Indiana graphic
State of Iowa graphic
State of Kansas graphic
State of Kentucky graphic
State of Louisiana graphic
State of Maine graphic
State of Maryland graphic
State of Michigan graphic
State of Minnesota graphic
State of Mississippi graphic
State of Missouri graphic
State of Montana graphic
State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Differential Grasshopper may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Differential Grasshopper. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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