differential grasshopper

(Melanoplus differentialis)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

differential grasshopper


N5 - Secure


not listed


Common. Significant crop pest.


July to October. One generation.


Low, moist areas, crop borders, roadsides.


1 to 13 16


Differential grasshopper is a common, large, long-winged, spur-throated, short-horned grasshopper. It occurs across the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, and in California, Mexico, and Ontario Canada. It is common in the southern half of Minnesota, where it is at the northern extent of its range.

The body of the male is 1 to 13 16 long and yellowish-brown or army green. The female is larger than the male.

There are no pale stripes on the upper (dorsal) part of the pronotum. On the sides of the pronotum there are 3 narrow, black, vertical grooves. There is a distinct, spiny bump (spur) at the base of the neck, between the base of the forelegs. The antennae are usually yellow, sometimes reddish-yellow, and are no more than ½ the length of the body. The pair of long appendages on the last abdominal segment (cerci) are boot-shaped with a heel, but this is not visible without a hand lens.

On the middle pair of legs, the foot (tarsus) is divided into two segments. On the hind pair of legs, the narrow upper portion (the outer face) of the hind third leg segment (femur) is yellow. The narrow lower portion (the inner face) of the hind femur is yellow. The middle portion of the femur, the broad area between the outer face and inner face, is grooved in a distinct, black, herringbone pattern.The fourth segment (tibia) of the hind leg is yellow with black, tooth-like spines. The remaining tibia are yellowish.

The wings are long, projecting beyond the tip of the abdomen when at rest.




Forbs and grasses, especially plants in the Aster family (Asteraceae), including giant ragweed, common sunflower, and prickly lettuce.

Life Cycle

The female thrusts her ovipositor into sod or rank vegetation and deposits a pod containing 45 to 194 eggs. The pods are curved and are about 1½ long and ¼ in diameter. She continues depositing egg pods, ultimately laying up to 600 or more eggs. The eggs hatch in the late spring when plants are green, most over a period of about 14 days. The nymphs mature into adults in about 32 days. Nymphal development is well synchronized, and most transform into adults in just a few days.


Differential grasshopper is a strong flier.

Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 7, 19, 24, 27, 29, 30.




Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, katydids)



Caelifera (grasshoppers)


No Rank:







Acrididae (short-horned grasshoppers)



Melanoplinae (spur-throated grasshoppers)




Subordinate Taxa

differential grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis differentialis)

differential grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis nigricans) (?)




differential grasshopper








In insects, the largest, most robust segment of the leg, coming immediately before the tibia. In humans, the thigh bone.



The saddle-shaped, exoskeletal plate on the upper side of the first segment of the thorax of an insect.



The fourth segment of an insect leg, after the femur and before the tarsus (foot).























Visitor Photos
Share your photo of this insect.

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.

Margot Avey

This photo was taken in my neighbors back yard in St Louis Park, MN. Have never seen anything like it.

  differential grasshopper    
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos


  differential grasshopper   differential grasshopper

Male and Female

  differential grasshopper    



  Differential Grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis)
Bill Keim
  Differential Grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis)  
  Melanoplus differentialis (Differential Grasshopper)
Allen Chartier
  Melanoplus differentialis (Differential Grasshopper)  



Visitor Videos
Share your video of this insect.

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach one or more videos or YouTube links and, if you like, a caption.

Other Videos
  Differential Grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis)
David Podgor

Published on Aug 23, 2012

Differential grasshopper also known as Melanoplus differentialis, found in Montgomery Village, Maryland in August 2012. For more information on this species, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Differential_grasshopper

  Differential Grasshopper curiosity
Carol Snow Milne

Published on Aug 21, 2013

Large 1.50 inch long Melanoplus differentialis grasshopper is curious about my ruler and likes to bite it and is uncertain how to walk on this unusual new shiny slippery surface. Eastern Pennsylvania.




Visitor Sightings
Report a sighting of this insect.
This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.

Margot Avey

Location: St. Louis Park, MN

differential grasshopper

MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings




Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © 2020 MinnesotaSeasons.com. All rights reserved.