Differential Grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis)
The Differential Grasshopper is a species of grasshopper belonging to the genus Melanoplus found throughout northern Mexico, central United States and southern Ontario, Canada. It is considered a pest in most of its range.
Adult males grow to 28-37 mm and females grow to 34-50 mm. They are brownish or greenish and as they age the color will darken. There are black grooves on the pronotum. The male has bootlike appendages at the end of its abdominal tip. There are inverted chevrons along the hind femur and the hind part the tibia is yellowish with black spikes. All of the adults tarsi are yellow along with its antennae, which in some cases are reddish yellow.
Found throughout most of the United States except for the east coast and northwest. Within its range the M. differentialis is most often found in heavily weeded areas and grasslands, they can even be spotted in vacant lots and other urban areas. This species is not migratory but can travel within a few miles to search for food.
An adult female will lay up to 8 egg masses in soft soil, each of these masses can contain up to 11 eggs. Once these eggs are laid about 54% of them will hatch in about 2 weeks. There is only one generation a year which occurs in early summer. Once they hatch the nymphs take around 32 days to become complete adults. Adults are most active during the summer while the larvae are active in the spring. It is polyphagous, eating both grasses and forbs but experiments have shown that they grow faster if feed forbs. The most favored food plants tend to be Giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida), Common sunflower (Helianthus annuus), Prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola). Adults can pick up on a chemical change in wilted lettuce and sunflowers and will tend to avoid these plants.
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