Orthoptera of North Carolina
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View Acrididae Members: NC Records

Melanoplus celatus Morse, 1904 - Secretive Short-wing Grasshopper

Family: Acrididae Subfamily: Melanoplinae Tribe: MelanopliniSynonym: Restored(?) from Melanoplus sylvestris
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.
Species Status: Morse 1904a,b) regarded celatus, sylvestris, and islandicus as closely related but separate species, the treatment of which was followed by Blatchley (1920), who placed them in the Mancus Species Group. Hebard (1937), however, considered sylvestris to be a synonym of M. celatus but the earlier treatment is followed by Cigliano et al. (accessed 2021).
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: BugGuide, Google Images,  iNaturalist, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults/Nymphs: Morse (1904a); Blatchley (1920); Hebard (1937)                                                                                  
Comments: A small three-toned brachypterous (flightless) Melanoplus. The dorsal surface is dark brown, bordered below by a black post-ocular stripe that extends to the metazona, with a continuation onto the sides of the mesonota and along the sides of the abdomen. The lower part of the head and lateral lobes of the pronotum are ivory white. The hind tibiae are red. Melanoplus sylvestris is similar in pattern and coloration and can be identified only on the basis of the male reproductive structures (but see below).
Structural Features: Morse (1904a,b) distinguished sylvestris, islandicus, and celatus based on the shape of the male cerci (those of sylvestris and celatus illustrated in Morse, 1904b, Fig.s 2 and 3). In sylvestris, the base of the cercus is narrower and the distal half is bent upwards and drawn out into a substyliform tip, whereas in celatus, it is broader at the base, not bent upwards, and is flattened at the tip. Both Blatchley (1920) and Hebard (1937), however, noted the wide range of variation in this group in the form of the cerci, furculae, and other male reproductive structures. Hebard also did not find any significant differences between sylvestris and celatus in the internal reproductive structures and figures given by Otte (in Cigliano et al., 2018) illustrate the wide variation just within sylvestris. Currently, we are not aware that there are any conclusive characters that can be used to distinguish these species, but our specimens seem at least to conform to the differences in cerci originally described by Morse.
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: Morse (1904b) describes finding this species "in shrubby undergrowth among pines on dry, stony soil"
Diet: Undescribed
Observation Methods: Best found by walking through its habitat and flushing individuals into making short jumps
Abundance/Frequency: We do not have enough information to determine the frequency of occurrence or abundance of this species in North Carolina
Adult Phenology: Our records all come from late summer and early fall
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: [SR]
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GU [SU]
State Protection: We recommend that this species be considered Significantly Rare by the Natural Heritage Program. That designation, however, does not confer any legal protection and insects in general are not covered by the state's Endangered and Threatened Wildlife Act. Permits are required to collect this species on state park lands, game lands, and other protected natural areas
Comments: We have very few records for this species in North Carolina, especially well-verified records. All but one are historic, although the recent record from Transylvania County appears to significantly expand the known range of this species.

Image Gallery for Melanoplus celatus - Secretive Short-wing Grasshopper

Recorded by: Ed Corey
Transylvania Co.
Recorded by: Ed Corey
Transylvania Co.
Recorded by: Ed Corey, Kevin Bischoff
Transylvania Co.
Recorded by: Ed Corey, Kevin Bischoff
Transylvania Co.
Comment: determined by J. Hill
Recorded by: B.B. Fulton
Avery Co.
Comment: NCSU Insect Museum specimen. Internal reproductive structures were dissected and left partially exposed
Recorded by: B.B. Fulton
Avery Co.
Comment: NCSU Insect Museum specimen