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Melanoplus femurrubrum (DeGeer)
Red-Legged Grasshopper
Family: Acrididae
The Families of Orthoptera of BC


© Brian Klinkenberg     (Photo ID #12215)


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Distribution of Melanoplus femurrubrum in British Columbia in British Columbia
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Species Information

This is a small to medium-sized grasshopper that, in BC, is slightly reddish above and yellowish below with bright red hind tibia. Other poulations may be reddish purple or bluish (Capinera et al. 2004). Schell et al. (1994) provide the following description for adults: “size medium but variable. Dull reddish or greyish-brown in color. Pronotum usually is more lightly colored on top than on the lower parts of the lateral lobes. Upper part of the lateral lobe is crossed by a broad black band on the prozona. Dorsal posterior margin of pronotum is curved or a rounded right angle. Tegmina are narrow and gradually tapering; brownish to dark brown, usually with faint brownish spots in median area. Tegmina surpass tip of abdomen and usually the hind femora. Wings are colorless. Hind femora are a blend of olive-green and dull yellowish-brown, sometimes with a greybrown or blackish tinge. Hind tibiae usually are deep red but sometimes yellowish-green. Furculae are long and narrow, about one-half the length of the supraanal plate. Cerci are strongly narrowed on basal half with apical one-half narrowed. Subgenital plate is short epically with apical margin strongly elevated and rounded. Male length, 17 to 23 mm; female, 18 to 27 mm (Blatchley, 1920; Heifer, 1972; Scudder, 1897; Somes, 1914; Uvarov, 1928).”



This is a migratory species. It is a strong-flying species that develops longer wings for dispersal during drought years (Pfadt 2010).


This species is polyphagous, feeding on a variety of forbs and several species of grasses. Host plants include legumes, composites, and grasses (Pfadt 2010).


Adults are present from July to first frost. Females have been observed ovipositing into sod (Pfadt 2010) and on wooden fence railings in September in northern Washington and southern BC. There is one generation per year (Pfadt 2010). Overwintering occurs as eggs (Schell et al. 1994)..


Adults are active from early summer to the middle of the fall (Pfadt 2010). The species is active during the day and is found at the tops of plants at night.


Found in areas of thick vegetation in arid areas usually near water; often abundant in disturbed areas, such as roadsides, abandoned fields and along fencerows (Capinera et al. 2004). Preferred habitat near the coast is salt marsh (Miskelly, pers. Comm. 2010).



Global Range:

This species is found throughout the US, except for the coastal plains of the southeast, Mexico, and parts of northern Canada (Capinera et al. 2004). Pfadts (2010) says: “In the eastern United States and Canada, it is the most abundant species of grasshopper.”

BC Range:

Found across southern British Columbia (Miskelly pers. Comm. 2010).


This is an agricultural pest that can damage alfalfa, clover, soybeans, and small grains during outbreaks; it is also known to damage corn, tobacco, and vegetables - especially beans, beets, cabbage, and potatoes (Pfadt 2010). It is generally a solitary species, however Pfadt (2010) provides the following information about outbreaks and populaiton ecology: “Historical records from the late 1800s till the 1980s indicate that a center of distribution of the redlegged grasshopper is present in a 78,000 square mile area composed of sections of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. A center is an especially favorable zone where the redlegged grasshopper is abundant and outbreaks are frequent. In such a distribution zone, populations respond quickly during spring and summer to reduced rainfall and warm temperatures. Within one to two years small populations may increase to outbreak numbers. Densities in these years reach peaks of 200 to 500 nymphs per square yard. Outbreaks last for two to three years until normal rainfall and cool spring temperatures reduce populations back to low noninjurious numbers. The periods of low densities range from two years to over five years. In western states densities of the redlegged grasshopper fluctuate widely, apparently in response to annual changes in weather. Large populations develop in irrigated fields of alfalfa and along roadsides, particularly in patches of sweetclover. This species may also add considerably to the density of outbreak assemblages of the migratory, twostriped, and differential grasshoppers.”

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeS5No StatusNot Listed

BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Melanoplus femurrubrum femurrubrum

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General References