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Melanoplus stegocercus. Photo by Mississippi Entomological Museum. Image subject to copyright.
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Melanoplus stegocercus Rehn and Hebard, 1916

A spur-throat grasshopper

Federal Protection: No US federal protection

State Protection: No Georgia state protection

Global Rank: G1G3

State Rank: S2

SWAP High Priority Species (SGCN): Yes

Element Occurrences (EOs) in Georgia: 2

Habitat Summary for element in Georgia: Georgia endemic; Ohoopee Dunes sandhills


Description

A small grasshopper (10-27 mm in length).  Brownish in color with black stripe extending laterally from behind the eye down the thorax. Hind tibia are blueish-gray.  The male cerci are subquadrate (almost rectangular) plate-like structures. This species has short wings and is incapable of flight, but is a very strong jumper. 

Similar Species

Most similar to Melanoplus tumidicercus, but differs in the shape of the male cerci and the internal male genitalia. Other related species tend to differ in habitat and range. 

Habitat

Can be found in high quality riverine dune or sandhill communites of east Georgia. Inhabits low-growing limbs and brush, especially of oak (Quercus sp.).

Diet

Probably a generalist feeder on herbaceous plants and tender oak leaves.  Often found in clumps of Gopher apple (Licania michauxii Prance).

Life History

Like all Orthopterans, the Melanoplus stegocercus undergoes an incomplete metamorphosis. Adults may be found throughout the growing season. 

Survey Recommendations

Walk through suitable habitat.  Catch specimens with a net to confirm ID.

Range

Endemic to the North American Coastal Plain of eastern Georgia. 

Threats

The primary threats to this species come from development and fragmentation of its habitat, combined with a naturally narrow range. Suppression of fire has also allowed woody species and exotic invasive species to encroach on the open habitat needed by this species.

Georgia Conservation Status

At present seven extant populantions are known. The populations are found on mix of private and public lands. 

Conservation Management Recommendations

Conservation of this species is best conducted by preservation and management of the remaining habitats where it occurs. Reintroduction of fire into the landscape will help maintain and restore suitable habitat.

References

Hill, J.G. 2009. The grasshopper (Orthoptera: Acrididae) fauna of sand dunes along the Little Ohoopee River, Emanuel County, Georgia, USA.  Journal of Orthoptera Research. 18: 29-35.

Hubble, T.H. 1932. A revision of the Puer Group of the North American genus Melanoplus with remarks on the taxonomic value of the concealed male genitalia in the Cyrtacanthacrininae. (Orthoptera: Acrididae) Miscellaneous Publications of the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology No. 23. 64 pp. 

 

Authors of Account

JoVonn G. Hill and Brady S. Dunaway

Date Compiled or Updated

12/2/2019

Melanoplus stegocercus male
Melanoplus stegocercus