ARTHROPOD MUSEUM NOTES

Number 96 • April 17, 2013 • Jeffrey K. Barnes

Autumn yellow-winged grasshopper
Order: Orthopera
Family: Acrididae (Subfamily: Oedipodinae)
Genus and species: Arphia xanthoptera (Burmeister)

Snowberry clearwing Snowberry clearwing


The Oedopodinae, or band-winged grasshoppers, are among our most conspicuous grasshoppers. Those of the genus Arphia are usually heavy bodied and bear enlarged hind legs. They are a rather drab gray or brown color and uninteresting when at rest, but when in flight, the bright orange or red hind wings are revealed as the male hopper makes a distinctive snapping, crackling, and buzzing sound. The sound, called crepitation, is produced by rubbing the under surface of the forewings against the veins of the hind wings. Solitary males may use the conspicuous flight and sound display to attract females. Band-winged grasshoppers are common in old fields, along roadsides, and on prairie remnants.

Arphia xanthoptera is distinguished from its closest relatives by its high arching pronotal crest, the area just behind the head. It is a rather large, dark brown species averaging around 1.5 inches long. It ranges from southern New England and New York south to the Florida panhandle and west to western Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. It can be found in open sunny woodland, grassy fields and woodland margins. It is thought that this species and perhaps some other eastern North American species greatly expanded their ranges as woodland was opened up in preparation for farming operations. This species overwinters in the egg stage. Nymphs hatch in spring and grow into adults that can be found from July through November in the southern states. These grasshoppers are thought to feed on grasses, but since they generally do not occur in cultivated fields their pest status is limited.