Orthoptera of North Carolina
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View Acrididae Members: NC Records

Melanoplus deceptus Morse, 1904 - Deceptive Melanoplus

Family: Acrididae Subfamily: Melanoplinae Tribe: MelanopliniSynonym: Melanoplus viridepes
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 deceptus is a member of the Viridpes species group (Otte, 2002), which in North Carolina also includes acrophilus, pachycercus, eurycercus, cherokee, hubbelli, and similis.
Species Status: The type locality is Balsam (probably Jones Knob), North Carolina (Morse, 1904)
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: OSF, Google Images, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults/Nymphs: Morse (1904); 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 cherokee, 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]: 18-20 mm (to the end of the femur), males; 19-24 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).
Structural photos
Nymphal Stages and Development: Not described
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: Mountain slopes and summits; probably in wood margins and openings (Otte, 2002)
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 from spring through the summer
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: SR
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G2G4 S2S3
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: This species appears to be more widespread and more frequently collected than other members of this group in North Carolina. Nonetheless, it appears to be confined to the southern Mountains -- extending into adjoining Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee -- and appears to occur in localized colonies. As such, it is likely to be vulnerable to habitat fragmentation and may be at risk due to climate change.

Image Gallery for Melanoplus deceptus - Deceptive Melanoplus

Recorded by: Stephen Hall
Macon Co.
Comment: Male; dissected
Recorded by: Stephen Hall
Macon Co.
Comment: Male
Recorded by: Stephen Hall
Macon Co.
Comment: Female
Recorded by: F. Sherman
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: F. Sherman
Macon Co.