Orthoptera of North Carolina
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View Acrididae Members: NC Records

Melanoplus similis Morse, 1904 - Similar Green-legged Melanoplus

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Family: Acrididae Subfamily: Melanoplinae Tribe: MelanopliniSynonym: Melanoplus viridepes [in Blatchley]
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 similis is a member of the Viridpes species group (Otte, 2002), which in North Carolina also includes acrophilus, pachycercus, deceptus, cherokee, hubbelli, and eurycercus.
Species Status: The type locality is Murphy, North Carolina, where Morse collected three males in 1903
Field Guide Descriptions: Online Photographs: BugGuide, Google Images,  iNaturalist, GBIFTechnical Description, Adults/Nymphs: Morse (1904); Otte (2002)                                                                                  
Comments: A small, short-winged (flightless) grasshopper. The body is mainly brown or gray dorsally with a wide shining black stripe extending from the back of the eye along the sides of the pronotum; the lower sides of the head and the sides of the pronotum below are whitish-gray to ivory. The fore- and mid-legs are green, as in other members of the viridipes group; the hind femora are pale brownish gray with two brown bands on the upper and outer faces. This species is less strongly marked than several members of this group but is similar in coloration to M. hubbelli. These two species can be best distinguished on the basis of structural characters (see below).
Total Length [body plus wings; excludes ovipositor]: 18-20 mm (to the end of the femur), males; 20-23 mm, females (Otte, 2002)
Structural Features: The cerci of the males are narrow distally, without an expanded tip; the apical end of the tip is slightly excised with rounded upper and lower lobes (Morse, 1904). In hubbelli, the tip of the cerci have a small tooth (Hebard, 1934).
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: As described by Otte (2002), habitats include both dry and mesic forests composed of oaks and pines. Elevations where the species has been observed range from 800 to 3,000 ft (Otte, 2002).
Diet: Undescribed
Observation Methods: Probably best found by flushing it by walking through its habitat
Abundance/Frequency: We have too few data for this species to estimate its abundance or relative frequency of occurrence
Adult Phenology: Adults are present in June and July (Otte, 2002)
See also Habitat Account for Montane Forblands and Successional Fields
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: SR
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 SH
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: More broadly distributed than some of the other species in the Viridipes group, ranging from New York State west to the Ohio Valley and south to Tennessee and the Southern Appalachians. North Carolina records are all historic and include just Haywood and Cherokee County. Habitat does not appear to be restricted and more needs to be learned about the distribution, abundance and habitat associations of this species before its conservation status can be accurately determined.