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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



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



Updated: 07/15/2019; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Harmful 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: femurrubrum
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Melanoplus femurrubrum
Other Name(s): Red-legged Locust
Category: Grasshopper or Cricket
Size (Adult; Length): 15mm to 35mm (0.59" to 1.37")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, black, white, red, pink, green, tan
Descriptors: flying, chirping, buzzing, harmful
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 15mm and 35mm
Lo: 15mm
Md: 25mm
Hi: 35mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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State of Delware graphic
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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 Red-legged 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 Red-legged Grasshopper. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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