Orthoptera of North Carolina
Scientific Name: Common Name:
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View Acrididae Members: NC Records

Melanoplus cherokee Hebard, 1935 - Cherokee Melanoplus

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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. Melanoplus cherokee is a member of the Viridpes species group (Otte, 2002), which in North Carolina also includes acrophilus, pachycercus, eurycercus, deceptus, hubbelli, and similis.
Species Status: The type locality of this species is Crestmont in the Great Smoky Mountains (Hebard, 1935).
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: BugGuide, Google Images,  iNaturalist, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults/Nymphs: Hebard (1934); Otte (2002)                                                                                  
Comments: A small, contrastingly patterned, green-legged Melanoplus. Males are similar to other strongly-marked species in this group, including eurycercus, pachycercus, acrophilus, and deceptus, all of which are grayish dorsally, shining black along the post-ocular line, thorax, and abdomen, and white on the face and lower sides of the pronotum. The fore and middle legs are bright green but the hind femur is white, banded with two black bands that are connected along the lower middle face. The abdominal segments are also contrastingly marked with black and white patches. These species are best distinguished based on structural features.
Total Length [body plus wings; excludes ovipositor]: 18-21 mm, males (to the end of the femur); 21 mm, females (Otte, 2002)
Structural Features: Furculae are indistinct mounds. Cerci are widened at the tip, broader than at the middle. Tegmina are slightly shorter or slightly longer than the pronotum, but usually do no reach the middle of the abdomen (Otte, 2002). The internal reproductive structures are diagnostic (see Hebard, 1934, and Otte, 2002, for descriptions and illustrations).
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)

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Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Otte (2002) describes the habitat as "grassy mountain tops and mountain crests, also in margins of woods and openings in woods where the sun penetrates readily."
Diet: Undescribed
Observation Methods: Probably best found by flushing it by walking through its habitat
Abundance/Frequency: Probably fairly local
Adult Phenology: Adults are present in mid-summer
See also Habitat Account for Montane Forblands and Successional Fields
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: SR
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G1G3 S2?
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: This species has a very restricted global range, recorded only from the southern mountains of North Carolina (Madison, Hayward, and Swain Counties) and Rabun Bald in northwest Georgia (Otte, 2002). As a small, flightless species, cherokee is probably vulnerable to the effects of habitat fragmentation and could be at risk due to the effects of climate change.