|scientific name Melanoplus gladstoni |
common name Gladston grasshopper
The Gladston grasshopper inhabits the rangelands of western North America (Pfadt 2002).
Melanoplus gladstoni nymphs (no wings or short wing buds) hatch later than most other grasshoppers; mid-June to early July. Adults (wings extend more than half the length of the abdomen) can be found about 42 to 70 days after the nymphs have hatched and tend to survive into October or November (Pfadt 2002). In Alberta it has been found in July and August (Strickland Museum records).
The Melanoplus gladstoni is a dark brown medium-large spurthroated grasshopper with long wings. This and other grasshoppers of the subfamily Melanoplinae often have a spiny bump on their "throat" between their front legs (Johnson 2002). Its tegmenhave a broken line, ivory with dark brown spots, running length-wise down the middle. The males of this species can be identified by the unique shape of their cerci; the apical quarter is bent inward. Both males and females of this species can be identified by the curvature of the lower carina of the hind femur. In other Melanoplus species it curves gently the entire length of the femur, but in Melanoplus gladstoni the basal third is straight or flat (Pfadt 2002).
The life cycle of this species is described in Pfadt's Field Guide to Common Western Grasshoppers (2002). Nymphs mature through 5 instars before moulting into the long-winged adult stage. A week after this last moult, mating pairs of adults have been observed and a couple weeks later the females begin to lay eggs. The egg pods are curved; about 2.5 cm long and contain 16 to 29 tan coloured eggs.
The Gladston grasshopper is not a serious pest of grasslands, and may even be beneficial because it eats Russian thistle buds and other weed species (Pfadt 2002).
Like most other grasshoppers this species is polyphagous, consuming a wide variety of grasses, sedges, forbs, seeds, moss, fungi, and dead arthropods (Pfadt 2002).
This species is ranges down the center of North America. From central Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, and the south-west corner of Manitoba, it ranges south down the middle of the United States and Mexico (based on range map in Pfadt 2002). There are records of this grasshopper in southern Alberta (Strickland Museum).
The daily habits of Melanoplus gladstoni are similar to most other grasshoppers (Pfadt 2002). Early in the morning they will leave their grass canopy shelters, usually blue grama, or climb down from their night-time perch on forbs, and rest horizontally on the ground until the sunlight reaches them. At this point they begin to bask by sitting perpendicular to the sun and lowering the associated hind leg. When warm enough they begin to walk, feed, and mate. If it gets too hot they take evasive action by climbing vegetation or sitting parallel to the sun.
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