Thursday, October 15, 2009
Red-Legged Grasshoppers (Melanoplus femurrubrum) are in the sub-family of grasshoppers known as Spur-throated grasshoppers.These are very common grasshoppers and are found throughout all of the United States and parts of Canada and Mexico. They are probably one of the most widespread of all the grasshoppers. They are found in weedy, grassy areas especially near cultivated land, meadows, roadsides, prairies, open woods and backyards. They feed on a wide variety of grasses and forbes. This will include many forage crops like clover and alfalfa. These are not a large grasshopper, in comparison to the much larger differential grasshopper these are rather small to medium sized grasshoppers. They can vary in color from dull reddish to brown. The hind legs have a reddish tint to them, from whence they get their common name. Females will lay eggs within the ground, and these eggs overwinter. In the spring they hatch and begin feeding on grasses. As they grow to adulthood they will consume large amounts of grasses and can be very injurious to numerous forage crops. In large numbers they can cause significant financial losses to these agricultural industries. On rare occasions they have shown a tendency to large mass flights, but this is rare. They usually tend to be solitary in their lifestyle. I find these little hoppers all over near our garden and the grassy areas near our old pond. They are secretive and somewhat hard to approach. They are very quick to hide or hop away. I've only managed a few decent pictures of them, the one pictured here is the best of them all. With the unusually cold fall temperatures we've been experiencing the grasshopper populations have suffered and their numbers are low. Typically this time of year we have warm fall days that bring these little beasts out in large numbers, not so this year.