|scientific name Melanoplus packardii |
common name Packard grasshopper
The Packard grasshopper inhabits grasslands, croplands, and mountain meadows of western North America (Pfadt 2002).
Melanoplus packardii nymphs (no wings or short wing buds) hatch from May to early June. Adults (wings extend the length of the abdomen or beyond) can be found about 47 to 63 days after the nymphs have hatched and due to their longevity a sizable population lives through August and September (Pfadt 2002). This grasshopper has been collected in July and August in Alberta (Strickland Museum records).
The Melanoplus packardii is a large spurthroated grasshopper with long wings extending as much as 6 mm beyond the end of the abdomen. This and other grasshoppers of the subfamily Melanoplinae often have a spiny bump on their "throat" between their front legs (Johnson 2002). It has bright tan, brown and yellow colour patterns. Two bright stripes run down the head and disk of the pronotum. Cerci of the males are spatulate and the supraanal plate (the cup-shaped plate at the end of the male abdomen) narrows gradually to the pointed end. Females can be identified by using size, markers and colouring to associate them with the males (Pfadt 2002).
The life cycle of this species is described in Pfadt's Field Guide to Common Western Grasshoppers (2002). After mating, the eggs mature in the female for about 20 days before oviposition. About 16 to 29 tan eggs are deposited in bare ground in a slightly curved pod about 3 cm long.
At high densities the Packard grasshopper can cause damage to grain crops and alfalfa, but at its usual low densities it is not a pest because of its preference for poor forage plants (Pfadt 2002).
The Packardgrasshopper consumes both grasses and forbs, but seems to prefer legumes including milkvetch, loco, peavine, and scurfpeas (Pfadt 2002).
This species can be found in the southern half of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the southern edge of Manitoba. It ranges broadly across the western half of the United States down to the northern edge of Mexico (based on range map in Pfadt 2002). Records indicate that this grasshopper can be found as far north as Fairview in Alberta (Strickland Museum).
Melanoplus packardii spend their nights on the ground or on leaf litter (Pfadt 2002). In the early morning they tend to sit close to vegetation and when the sunlight reaches them they begin to bask until warm enough to become active. When temperatures are too hot they take evasive action by climbing vegetation and resting.
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