Clear-Winged Grasshopper

2010 January 23

Sam caught this one in the yard on July 30. She kept it in a box with some grass to eat for about a day, but ultimately decided that it would be better off if she let it go.


The distinguishing features on it are the black patch on the shoulders just above the front legs; the nearly clear forewings with irregular dark splotches on them; the dark bands running diagonally across the thighs on the hind legs; and the white lines on the top edges of the wings that meet about halfway down the back.


Going through Orthoptera of Michigan, it looks to me like the Clear-Winged Grasshopper, Camnula pellucida. This is one of the most common grasshoppers in Michigan, and is pretty widespread throughout North America. Since it is a significant agricultural pest the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture has a rather extensive writeup, including range maps and complete lifecycle photographs, here).


It’s a true grasshopper, as its preferred food is, in fact, grass. It likes grasslands, pastures, and fields of grain like wheat and barley. Those last two make it a fairly serious pest, particularly in Canada, as it can undergo population explosions where there are as many as 1000 grasshopper nymphs per square meter. When they grow up, the USDA says that “a population of 20 adults per square yard will consume the entire available yield of forage grasses on rangelands of British Columbia.”

Orthoptera of Michigan says that while they may make swarms, they don’t generally travel even as far as a mile. But, the USDA says that “Adults may migrate long distances in huge flying swarms at either low or high altitudes”. So now I wonder whether there are regional differences, with Michigan grasshoppers being less prone to making migratory swarms than grasshoppers out on the Great Plains.

The description says that the nymphs are a striking black and white, so maybe I’ll be able to find some this spring.

One Response
  1. suren permalink
    March 18, 2010

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