Mating Spur Throated Grasshoppers: Barytettix humphreysii cochisei

More Bug Love
February 21, 2010
Hi, WTB,
Thanks for the nice words about the very recent Cactus Longhorn Beetle photo.
Seeking ID help, please, for this pair of grasshoppers from late September in the foothills of the Santa Rita Moutains in southern Arizona at about 4,400 ft.  These are plentiful from mid- to late summer.
Denny Schreffler

Mating Spur Throated Grasshoppers

Hi again Denny,
Another gorgeous photograph.  At first we thought these might be mating Lubber Grasshoppers in the family Romaleidae.  Many members of the family are large Grasshoppers with bright coloration and   BugGuide does not picture anything quite like your specimens, though the Plains Lubber Grasshopper, Brachystola magna, looks similar.  We wonder if perhaps it might be a species of Lubber Grasshopper that is mentioned on BugGuide, but not pictured, Spaniacris deserticola.  According to information we unearthed on the internet, it is found in Mexico and Arizona, but alas, we cannot find any photos.  Perhaps an expert will be able to provide us with additional information.  As we continued to try to identify this gorgeous pair, we found a website on the Studies in nearctic desert sand dune Orthoptera that contained this information:  “Four decades of the author’s records indicate that Spaniacris deserticola (Bruner) is confined within the periphery of the Colorado Desert. It is usually found, near or within a few hundred feet of sea level, marking the shore line of ancient Lake Cahuilla (except for the Dale Lake record). The preferred host plant is Coldenia palmeri growing on the lower fringes of bajadas, with C. plicata on drift sand being second in preference. Spaniacris can tolerate sand and rock temperatures of 60 C. (believed to be a maximum for Colorado Desert life). Mating takes place at that and lower temperatures. When they are disturbed while on the tops of host plants, their flight is low and direct and of short duration, and they come to rest on the torrid soil for long periods of time. The female, much larger than the male, can sustain the male in flight while mating. The study verified spatial longevity of Spaniacris at Indio, California, after approximately 70 years and for the Kane Springs area after 52 years.
”  That suggests that Spaniacris deserticola has developed wings, and that does not appear to be the case with your pair, which inclines us to believe that is not a correct identification.  We now believe they are probably Spur Throated Grasshoppers in the subfamily Melanoplinae which includes the gorgeous Painted Grasshopper that also has undeveloped wings in the adult for.  The bottom line on this is that we need professional assistance.

Eric Eaton writes back
Anyway, the pair of grasshoppers are Barytettix humphreysii cochisei, and the subspecies is in Bugguide already….They are in the spur-throated grasshopper subfamily Melanoplinae in the family Acrididae.  Neither gender has functional wings as adults.
More information, images here:
Thanks for giving me a sneak peek at this great image!

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