Band-winged grasshoppers are intriguing insects that can be found in various habitats such as old fields, roadsides, and prairie remnants.
They are known for their distinct features, such as their high arching pronotal crest and colorful hind wings that are often displayed during flight.
One notable species of band-winged grasshopper is Arphia xanthoptera, a large, dark brown grasshopper that averages around 1.5 inches in length.
It can be found in regions like southern New England and New York.
Another example is the Carolina grasshopper, which exhibits pale-yellow-bordered, black hindwings, resembling a mourning cloak butterfly when its wings are spread.
Key characteristics of band-winged grasshoppers include:
- Antennae that are usually less than half the length of the body with fewer than 30 segments
- Camouflaged appearance with colors like green, olive, tan, brown, or black
- Hind legs specialized for jumping
- Chewing mouthparts
These fascinating creatures play an essential role in their ecosystems.
As you explore the world of band-winged grasshoppers, you will discover a diverse range of species, each exhibiting unique characteristics and behaviors.
Band Winged Grasshopper Classification
Band-winged grasshoppers belong to the order Orthoptera, which includes insects like grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids. Some common features of Orthoptera are:
- Large hind legs for jumping
- Wings that fold over their body
- Chewing mouthparts
The common field cricket is another member of the order Orthoptera.
The grasshoppers, including the band-winged grasshopper, are classified in the suborder Caelifera. This suborder is characterized by:
- Shorter antennae compared to other Orthoptera
- Tympanum located at the base of the abdomen
|Features||Caelifera (Grasshoppers)||Ensifera (Crickets & Katydids)|
|Tympanum location||Base of the abdomen||Front legs|
The band-winged grasshopper is a member of the family Acrididae, which is the largest family in the suborder Caelifera. Acrididae is characterized by:
- Broad hind wings
- Prominent pronotum
Scientific classification of a band-winged grasshopper:
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Orthoptera
- Suborder: Caelifera
- Family: Acrididae
Key Features and Identifying Characteristics
As described earlier, band-winged grasshoppers have short antennae, usually less than half the length of the body.
These grasshoppers display variations in body colors and patterns, which aid in camouflage.
Hind Wings and Flight
A distinct characteristic of band-winged grasshoppers is their hind wings with dark submarginal bands, as seen in the Oedipodinae subfamily.
These bands on the hind wings have a noticeable impact on their flight appearance.
Hind Legs for Jumping
Another key identifying feature of band-winged grasshoppers is their hind legs. These insects are known for their jumping abilities, and their hind legs play a crucial role in this.
The strong legs are designed to create powerful leaps, which aid in escape from predators or moving between plants.
|Feature||Band-winged Grasshopper||Other Grasshoppers|
|Hind Wings||Dark submarginal bands||No bands|
|Flight Appearance||Distinctive pattern||Varies|
|Average Daily Movement||27 feet (Pallid-winged)||Varies|
Habitat and Distribution
The Band-Winged Grasshopper is commonly found in North America, particularly in grassy fields of southern states like Texas. Some examples of their habitats include:
- Open grasslands
- Agricultural lands
They are known as locusts when in large populations.
In Europe, the grasshopper species is less common but still present. Some key habitats in Europe:
- Forest edges
Life Cycle and Reproduction
Nymphs and Development
Band-winged grasshoppers undergo incomplete metamorphosis. This means their development includes three life stages: egg, nymph, and adult.
Nymphs are the juvenile stage of grasshoppers. They have some similarities with their adult counterparts:
- Nymphs possess wing pads, which later develop into functional wings.
- They also have the same feeding habits as adults.
However, there are differences between nymphs and adults:
- Nymphs lack fully developed wings and reproductive organs.
- They go through five nymphal stages or instars before reaching adulthood.
Mating and Females
Band-winged grasshoppers exhibit unique mating behaviors. Males perform courtship displays, which include:
- Producing specific mating songs.
- Flashing their brightly colored hind wings.
Females are attracted by these displays and songs. After successful courtship, the male and female mate.
The female then lays her eggs, which are enclosed in a protective case called an “ootheca”. Some key points about female grasshoppers and reproduction:
- Females can lay multiple egg pods during their lifetime.
- Each egg pod contains approximately 20-120 eggs, depending on the species.
A comparison between nymphs and female grasshoppers:
|Appearance||Smaller, wing pads||Larger, fully developed wings|
|Reproduction||Not capable of reproducing||Capable of laying eggs|
|Feeding habits||Similar to adults||Similar to nymphs|
|Life stage||2nd stage (after egg)||3rd stage (after nymph)|
|Key development||Growth, shedding old exoskeleton||Mating, producing eggs|
Subfamilies and Related Species
The Oedipodinae subfamily of grasshoppers which includes the group band-winged grasshoppers has the following key features:
- Strong jumpers
- Often produce a crackling noise while flying
- Brightly colored hind wings
One notable species within this subfamily is the Pallidwinged Grasshopper.
This grasshopper moves an average of 27 feet per day, and has a relatively low recovery rate compared to other long-winged species.
Gomphocerinae, commonly known as slant-faced grasshoppers, are another significant subfamily. Main characteristics of these grasshoppers are:
- Antennae shorter than half of their body length
- Slanting face
- Camouflaged coloration to blend into their environment
|Antennae||Relatively short||Shorter than half body length|
|Coloration||Varies, often brightly colored hind wings||Camouflaged|
|Common Behavior||Strong jumpers, crackling noise while flying||Blend into their environment|
|Examples of related species||Pallidwinged Grasshopper||Slant-faced Grasshoppers|
The differences and similarities between the Oedipodinae and Gomphocerinae subfamilies give each group its unique characteristics, but they are all members of the larger Acrididae family, which also includes spur-throated grasshoppers.
Behavior and Interaction with Humans
Diet and Protein Intake
The Band-winged grasshopper is an herbivore, primarily feeding on different types of plants.
They have a diverse diet which depends on their habitat. Some examples of plants they consume include:
These grasshoppers require a significant amount of protein in their diet for growth and reproduction. They rely on plants as their main source of protein.
Band-winged grasshoppers have developed several unique ways to protect themselves from predators. Some of these defense mechanisms include:
- Jumping: Grasshoppers are known for their exceptional jumping ability, which allows them to quickly escape from danger.
- Flight: Certain Band-winged grasshopper species also have the ability to fly, further enhancing their ability to avoid predators.
- Coloration: They may display various shades of color to blend in with their surroundings, making them difficult to detect.
Grasshoppers do not usually pose a threat to humans, but they can become a nuisance when they appear in large numbers, potentially damaging crops.
|Flight||Moderate to High|
Band-Winged Grasshoppers are more than just your garden-variety grasshoppers.
With their unique features like colorful hind wings and high arching pronotal crests, they stand out in the insect world.
Their role in ecosystems is crucial, serving as both herbivores and prey.
From their fascinating life cycle to their diverse habitats spanning North America and Europe, these grasshoppers are a testament to the complexity and beauty of nature.
Whether you’re an entomologist or a casual observer, the Band-Winged Grasshopper offers a captivating glimpse into the intricacies of insect life.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about band winged grasshoppers. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Band-Winged Grasshopper
Subject: Odd Moth in Maryland
Location: Central Maryland, USA
August 25, 2013 11:04 am
Bugman, this odd looking moth-like bug looks like a mix between two bug types. Thought it may be a adult antlion but couldn’t find anything like it in my books or on your great web site. I’ve not seen anything like it before-any insights?
Signature: Roger S.
This is a Band-Winged Grasshopper in the subfamily Oedipodinae. According to BugGuide: “Most species of this subfamily, as implied by the common name, have a dark band crossing the hind wing somewhere between the middle and outer margin, most have the basal part (or “disc”) of the wing colored.
A few species have entirely dark or clear hind wings. The relative placement and shape of the dark band, as well as the color of the base is often of great help in identifying the species.
The pronotum usually has a median ridge, and sometimes aditional lateral ridges, that vary in height and whether cut or not (and in how many times cut). Many make crackling, buzzing, or ticking sounds when they fly (crepitate). ”
The Band-Winged Grasshoppers are camouflaged against the dirt and dried vegetation when they are at rest. Upon flying, they flash their banded hindwings which are then hidden again when they alight.
Any predator is searching for the brightly colored meal it spotted, but the resting Band-Winged Grasshopper is safe as long as it doesn’t take flight again.
Daniel, thank you for the quick and thorough response. I would never have guessed it was a grasshopper the way it had the wings spread out!
Guess it was on its last legs in life and thus was laying flat. Thanks for posting my picture onto the site, looks like a great addition to all of your wonderful reference pictures already there.
Letter 2 – Band-Winged Grasshopper
Subject: Band Wing Grasshopper?
Location: CT, USA
August 5, 2012 9:18 am
Let me start by saying, I love your site! Anyway, I’ve recently moved from a more city like environment to a nicer, much quieter neighborhood with woods that lead to a reservoir right in my back yard.
I’ve have been discovering many different, sometimes creepy, insects since. I have most recently been spotting these grasshopper-like insects all over my back yard.
I mean, they’re literally all over the place. They seem to be most active midday, anywhere between 11am – 5pm or so. I do believe that they’re grasshoppers, but when startled they don’t hop, but fly away.
They have black wings with either a white or a pale yellow stripe along the edge of the wing. They fly quite clumsily and make an almost unpleasant buzzing sound when in flight.
They’re really very beautiful creatures. Oh, I might add that I am from CT, USA and it’s midsummer. I do hope these pictures will do, as I have yet to catch one flying on camera.
P.S. Thanks for the info on the Stink Bug!
Based on your description of this Grasshopper in flight, we agree that it is a Band-Winged Grasshopper in the subfamily Oedipodinae. The taxonomy listed on BugGuide describes the subfamily members thus:
“Most species of this subfamily, as may be deduced from the common name, have brightly colored hind wings with a marginal or sub-marginal band, though a few species have clear hind wings.
The pronotum usually has a median keel. Many make crackling, buzzing, or ticking sounds when they fly (crepitate). A “prosternal spur” is absent between the bases of the front legs. “
Letter 3 – Band Winged Grasshopper
Location: Vancouver Island, Canada
November 11, 2013 12:45 pm
Photo of a Grasshopper taken on Vancouver Island, Canada in September 2013.
Hi again GaryT,
We see we are way too late to help with this identification as you posted to BugGuide and had this Band Winged Grasshopper identified as Trimerotropis pallidipennis-b.
Letter 4 – Band-Winged Grasshopper
Subject: What’s kind of grasshopper
Location: Northern Nevada
August 4, 2016 5:40 pm
Found this grasshopper on my windshield then he hopped to ground. What kind is it, is it related to locust family? Thanx for ur reply.
Signature: C. Hartery
Dear C. Hartery,
This is one of the Band-Winged Grasshoppers in the Subfamily Oedipodinae. At first we thought it might be a Red-Shanked Grasshopper, Xanthippus corallipes, which we located on Bug Eric, where it states:
“The enormous female Red-Shanked Grasshopper, … is more typical of the leopard-spotted grasshoppers. She keeps her most vibrant colors mostly concealed. The back of her head is blue, and the inner surface of her hind femora (“thighs”), and the entirety of her hind tibiae, are bright vermillion.
Her hind wings, visible only when she is flying, are bright yellow with a black band.” We then realized that other species also had red legs and that a careful examination of leg markings, including both tibia and femora, as well as a good view of the hind wings are all needed for more exact identification. We are now leaning toward the genus Trimerotropis which is well represented on BugGuide.
I’ll try and track her down again. I do recall seeing yellow under wings I think.
Thanks very much for the reply.
Letter 5 – Aztec Grasshopper
Subject: Unknown Grasshopper
Geographic location of the bug: Mountain Home, TX (Hill Country)
Time: 01:02 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hey Bugman,
While on vacation to Mountain Home Texas I took several photos of insects.
I’ve tried to identify this grasshopper.
When it flew out in front of me it had beautiful yellow wings. Only the tibia parts of the legs are blue-green.
How you want your letter signed: Melissa
We are posting your images of a Band Winged Grasshopper in the subfamily Oedipodinae, but we have not yet had a chance to browse through the species pictured on BugGuide to determine its identity.
I got some overcast shots of it too.
The color is much colder in this, but some details pop out more.
It’s like parts many other banded grasshoppers came together. Too mottled to be an autumn yellow wing. Too dark for many other yellow wings I’ve seen.
Any help is appreciated
Thanks for the additional image Melissa. We will continue to research this matter.
Update: nevermind found it, thanks for posting my pics on your website.
I found out my grasshopper is an lactista azteca. Aztec Grasshopper.
banded yellow wing / blue green tibia that is smallish with a very dark single crossbar across back and hind-femur.
Its’s the only species just like this in the hill-country / desert / mexico area.
This is an awesome name for an insect.
thanks so much again -Melissa
Letter 6 – Band-Winged Grasshoppers
Location: Eastern Iowa
August 31, 2016 12:37 pm
I was wondering if you could help me identify which type of grasshoppers these are. Eastern Iowa, Johnson County parking lot in Iowa City on 8/29/2016.
These are Band-Winged Grasshoppers in the subfamily Oedipodinae, and as you can see by browsing BugGuide, there are many species in the subfamily.
Band-Winged Grasshoppers get their common name which is descriptive of the underwings, that are hidden in your image. The underwings are often brightly colored (red, orange, yellow and blue depending upon the species) with black bands.
When the grasshoppers fly, they attract attention because of the bright colors, but when they land, as in your image, they are camouflaged by the drab colors that hide the underwings. Unfortunately, we cannot provide you with a species name at this time.
Letter 7 – Band Winged Meadowhawk
Pretty red Dragonfly
August 12, 2009
I came home this afternoon (8-12-09) to see this guy flitting around my daylilies. He was just so pretty and the red color was stunning! I hurried in to grab my husband’s camera to try and take some pictures.
I say try as HE is the photographer (he does weddings and such) and all I typically get is a point and shoot!
But I am so curious as to what he is. I’ve never seen one this color before! Thanks for your help!
WE tried unsuccessfully for over a half an hour to identify your dragonfly on BugGuide. We were about to give up when we decided to web search Odonata Ohio and found a page called North Coast Odonata with a photo gallery and there we found the Band Winged Meadowhawk, Sympetrum semicinctum.
We then found the Band Winged Meadowhawk on BugGuide. The Dragonflies and Damselflies of New Jersey website indicates: “Usually found near marshy areas in or near woodlands; it is one of our less common meadowhawks.”
Letter 8 – Band Winged Grasshopper
Sat, Oct 25, 2008 at 12:14 AM
Hi, I was perusing granitic formations around Knob Lick, Missouri when I espied movement. Upon closer inspection I realized I was looking at a highly camouflaged grasshopper.
There are many ‘hoppers in our general area, but I’ve never seen one quite like this. He’s approximately 2″ long. Can you tell me more about him?
Also, the second pic is of the more commonly seen ‘hoppers.
Thanks for your help! I love the site!
Misty, the HiTechRedneck
Knob Lick, MO
We spent a bit of time scanning through images on BugGuide, and we believe this is a Pine Tree Spur-Throat Grasshopper, Melanoplus punctulatus. BugGuide indicates: “Forests and oak savannah; may be nocturnal–comes to lights. Often seen perched on trunks of trees, where well-camouflaged.” Anyone who uses the verb espied is our kind of reader.
Correction: October 27, 2008
Just went over to visit WTB and did find one minor error. The image labeled “Pine tree spur-throated grasshopper” is actually a band-winged grasshopper, probably in the genus Trimerotropis, though it is hard to be conclusive.