Band Winged Grasshopper: Essential Facts and Insights

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.

Band Winged Grasshopper

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

Order Orthoptera

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.

Suborder Caelifera

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

Comparison table:

FeaturesCaelifera (Grasshoppers)Ensifera (Crickets & Katydids)
Antennae lengthShortLong
Tympanum locationBase of the abdomenFront legs

Family Acrididae

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

Physical Appearance

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.

Comparison Table

FeatureBand-winged GrasshopperOther Grasshoppers
Hind WingsDark submarginal bandsNo bands
AntennaeShortLong
Flight AppearanceDistinctive patternVaries
Average Daily Movement27 feet (Pallid-winged)Varies

Habitat and Distribution

North America

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.

Europe

In Europe, the grasshopper species is less common but still present. Some key habitats in Europe:

  • Meadows
  • 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:

 NymphsFemales
AppearanceSmaller, wing padsLarger, fully developed wings
ReproductionNot capable of reproducingCapable of laying eggs
Feeding habitsSimilar to adultsSimilar to nymphs
Life stage2nd stage (after egg)3rd stage (after nymph)
Key developmentGrowth, shedding old exoskeletonMating, producing eggs

Subfamilies and Related Species

Oedipodinae

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

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

Comparison Table

FeatureOedipodinaeGomphocerinae
AntennaeRelatively shortShorter than half body length
FaceVariableSlanting
ColorationVaries, often brightly colored hind wingsCamouflaged
Common BehaviorStrong jumpers, crackling noise while flyingBlend into their environment
Examples of related speciesPallidwinged GrasshopperSlant-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:

  • Grasses
  • Forbs
  • Shrubs

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.

Defense Mechanisms

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.

Defense MechanismEffectiveness
JumpingHigh
FlightModerate to High
ColorationModerate

Conclusion

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.

Reader Emails

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.

Band-Winged Grasshopper
Band-Winged Grasshopper

Hi Roger,
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.
Roger S.
Severn, Maryland

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!
Signature: Kimberly

Band-Winged Grasshopper

Dear Kimberly,
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

Subject: Grasshopper-B
Location: Vancouver Island, Canada
November 11, 2013 12:45 pm
Photo of a Grasshopper taken on Vancouver Island, Canada in September 2013.
Signature: GaryT

Band Winged Grasshopper:  Trimerotropis pallidipennis-b
Band Winged Grasshopper: Trimerotropis pallidipennis-b

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

Red Shanked Grasshopper
Band-Winged Grasshopper

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.

Cool
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)
Date: 03/22/2018
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

Aztec Grasshopper

Dear 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.

Band Winged Grasshopper

Thanks,
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
Melissa

Band Winged Grasshopper

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

Subject: 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.
Thank you!
Signature: des

Band-Winged Grasshoppers
Band-Winged Grasshoppers

Dear Des,
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!
Jenn
Columbus, Ohio

Band Winged Meadowhawk
Band Winged Meadowhawk

Hi Jenn,
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.”

Band Winged Meadowhawk
Band Winged Meadowhawk

Letter 8 – Band Winged Grasshopper

Camouflaged 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

Pine Tree Spur-Throat Grasshopper
Pine Tree Spur-Throat Grasshopper

Hi Misty,
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
Hi, Daniel:
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.
Eric

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  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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