Orthoptera of North Carolina
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View Acrididae Members: NC Records

Melanoplus bispinosus Scudder, 1897 - Two-Spined Melanoplus


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.
Field Guide Descriptions: Capinera et al. (2004)Online Photographs: OSF, BugGuide, Google Images, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults/Nymphs: Scudder (1897)                                                                                  
Comments: A medium-large, dark grayish to reddish, long-winged grasshopper. Scudder (1897) described the color as "cinereo-fuscous, more or less ferruginous." Our one specimen is fairly dark gray but with reddish shades on the thorax, tegmina, and legs. A dark post-ocular stripe is present, extending onto the side of the prozona; the abdomen is mostly unmarked. The hind femur is marked with dark blotches and the hind tibia is greenish.
Total Length [body plus wings; excludes ovipositor]: 24.5, males; 31.5 females (Scudder, 1897)
Structural Features: Males have long, acuminate, somewhat divegent furculae, for which the species is named (Scudder, 1897). Just as distinctive, the lateral lobes of the supra-anal plate -- located just below the furculae - are rounded at the posterior end. The cerci are narrow, slightly expanded at the apex and slightly depressed (see illustration in Capinera et al.)
Nymphal Stages and Development: Undescribed
Distribution in North Carolina
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Adult 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: Our records comes from an open sandy area located on an abandoned gravel mine and from a sandy old field located at the end of an airport runway
Diet: Presumably grasses
Observation Methods: Recorded by flushing it by walking through its habitat
Abundance/Frequency: Not enough information currently exists to estimate its frequency of occurrence within North Carolina or its abundance
Adult Phenology: Recorded in June and October in North Carolina; Capinera et al. (2004) report that it is common in the summer and well into the fall in Florida
See also Habitat Account for Coastal Plain Successional Fields and Forblands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: [W3]
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G4G5 [SU]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: This species is common in Texas and the southern Midwest (see range map prepared by Otte in Cigliano et al., 2016) but appears to have been discovered in the Southeast fairly recently. It was not recorded in this region by Rehn and Hebard (1916) or Blatchley (1920). The first record from east of the Mississippi River appears to have been made in 1970 in Alabama by Dakin and Hays (1970). The first record was made in Florida in 1997 (Capinera et al., 1997); in Georgia in 2009 (Hill, 2009); and in North Carolina in 2013. This progression of dates suggests that it may be expanding its range eastward and northward, but records in the Southeast in general are still considered sparse (see Hill, 2009). Habitats for this species -- at least in the core of its range west of the Mississippi -- appear to be general grasslands, which suggest that it may not be limited by either host plants or habitats.

Image Gallery for Melanoplus bispinosus - Two-Spined Melanoplus

Recorded by: Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan
Moore Co.
Recorded by: Steve Hall
Scotland Co.
Recorded by: Steve Hall
Scotland Co.
Comment: Male
Recorded by: Stephen Hall, Ed Corey, and Dave Lenat
Anson Co.