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Spur-throated Grasshopper (Melanoplus ponderosus)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Spur-throated Grasshopper

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The popular Spur-throated Grasshopper is a pest of the highest order, ruining harvests across the Bread Basket of the continent.

Updated: 07/15/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Spur-throated Grasshoppers (part of the Short-horned Grasshopper family) are the most common species of grasshopper in all of North America. It is known mostly for the damage that it inflicts to crops in the Midwest states. The Spur-throated Grasshopper is yellow, orange, or green with additional shades of brown or red. The body may be spectacularly colored in some cases, with bands, spots, or blotches over all of it, and antennae are short.

The female of the species lays her eggs, sometimes as many as 20, straight into the soil, where they sit over the winter months. One generation is produced per year. These nymphs mature early in the summer in northern parts of their range; they are present all year in the Southern states.

Spur-throated Grasshoppers are generally found in fields and open meadows, traveling from place to place. Their reach may be past the highlighted states, as they have been seen as far north as southern Canada and throughout the United States. Research is underway that utilizes a deliberate fungal infection to kill this species of grasshopper in an effort to control exploding population numbers and save crops.

Known Diet of the Spur-Throated-Grasshopper


General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Harmful insect icon
Jumping 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: ponderosus
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Melanoplus ponderosus
Category: Grasshopper or Cricket
Size (Adult; Length): 25mm to 45mm (0.98" to 1.77")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: green; brown; black
Descriptors: flying, jumping, harmful

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 25mm (1.0in) and 45mm (1.8in)
Lo: 25mm
Md: 35mm
Hi: 45mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Spur-throated 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 Spur-throated Grasshopper. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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