Orthoptera of North Carolina
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View Acrididae Members: NC Records

Melanoplus femurrubrum (De Geer, 1773) - Red-legged Grasshopper


Taxonomy
Family: Acrididae Subfamily: Melanoplinae Tribe: Melanoplini                                                                                 
Comments: Melanoplus is our largest genus of Orthopterans, with over 350 species occurring in North America (Cigliano et al., 2017). 38 species have been recorded in North Carolina. Along with M. sanguinipes and propinquus, M. femurrubrum belongs to the Sanguinipes Species Group (Cigliano et al., 2017).
Species Status: Sometimes lumped with M. propinquus, with the two treated either as separate subspecies or merely as variants. The Orthoptera Species File, however, considers them to be distinct species, which is how we treat them here.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Capinera et al. (2004)Online Photographs: BugGuide                                                                                  
Comments: Variable in color but with the hind tibiae bright red and the underside of the hind femur also shaded red. At least some populations in North Carolina are fairly bright yellow, which distinguishes them from both M. propinquus and M. sanguinipes, which otherwise have similar markings. Identification of these species is best done through inspection of the external reproductive structures of the males. Photographs submitted of this species should include a close-up, dorsal view of the cerci and furculae (see below).
Total Length [body plus wings; excludes ovipositor]: 17-23 mm, males; 18-27 mm, females (Blatchley, 1920)
Structural Features: The furculae typically do not reach more than halfway across the supra-anal plate (Scudder, 1897), contrasting with M. propinquus, where they usually reach more than halfway across. The cerci have a broad base but taper towards the apex; the outer portion is angulate, appearing obliquely truncate from above rather than rounded as in propinquus (Scudder, 1897).
Structural photos
Distribution in North Carolina
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Habitats and Life History
Habitats:
Diet:
Observation Methods:
Abundance/Frequency:
Adult Phenology:
RegionGuild
Northern Outer Coastal Plain Successional Fields
Fall-line Sandhills Successional Fields
Eastern Piedmont Successional Fields
Western Piedmont Successional Fields
Southern Mountains Successional Fields
Northern Mountains Successional Fields
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S5]
State Protection:
Comments:

Photo Gallery for Melanoplus femurrubrum - Red-legged Grasshopper

Recorded by: Mark Shields, Hunter Phillips
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields, Hunter Phillips
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: J.B. Sullivan
Watauga Co.
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Recorded by: J.B. Sullivan
Jones Co.
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Recorded by: J.B. Sullivan
Carteret Co.
Comment: Yellow form. Male identified by reproductive structures (see Structural Photos)
Recorded by: J.B. Sullivan
Carteret Co.
Comment: Dark form. Male identified by reproductive structures (see Structural Photos)
Recorded by: Stephen Hall
Franklin Co.
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Recorded by: Stephen Hall
Franklin Co.
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