The state of Texas is a haven for many species of grasshoppers because of its open, dry habitats and number of droughts. These insects can be found in swarms, sometimes travelling for several miles in a single day. While some grasshoppers have a positive impact on the state’s ecosystem, others can prove destructive to various crops and plant life.
Overall, grasshoppers have the ability to directly impact human life. While this can be done as pests, they also provided needed nutrients and protein to various types of vegetation and crops.
11 Grasshoppers in Texas
1. Eastern Lubber
Scientific name: Brachystola magna
The adult Eastern lubber grasshopper can grow up to two and a half inches long. They have short front wings but are flightless insects. Their greenish brown coloring and dark spots make them look similar to the rainbow grasshoppers.
These insects like to hang out in weedy areas along roads, vacant lots, or fields. Sunflowers, cotton, lettuce, and ragweed are their main food sources, and they are not typically seen as pests.
Scientific name: Melanoplus femurrubrum
Adult red-legged grasshoppers only reach up to an inch in size. Their backs are green colored while their abdomens are red-black. If frightened they can fly up to 40 feet at one time.
Red leggeds eat cabbage, beans, beets, corn, alfalfa, legume plants, grains, potatoes, and tobacco. They prefer sunny and grassy areas and can commonly be seen in yards, meadows, and prairies. They are able to grow long wings during droughts, allowing them to search for new food.
Scientific name: Melanoplus differentialis
The differential grasshopper starts out as green or bright yellow, and they can darken to a brownish color as they age. Found in most of Texas and several other states in the U.S. they are typically considered pests. Their populations are not as dense in northern regions.
Differential grasshoppers prefer weeded areas or vacant lots, and can also be found in urban areas. They aren’t a migratory species but are able to travel up to a few miles in order to find food.
4. American Bird
Scientific name: Schistocerca americana
The American bird grasshopper, often just called the American grasshopper, is one of the more recognizable species. They have a yellow-brown coloring, and their wings are pale with brown spots. While not much of a pest in Texas, they can be destructive in Florida, another state where they are common.
There are times these insects can create large outbreaks of swarms, which are then referred to as locusts. While rare, the outbreaks have the power to devastate crops. However, they aren’t able to swarm as much as the desert locust, another member of their family.
Scientific name: Melanoplus bivittatus
Two-striped grasshoppers are named for the two yellow stripes that stretch from their eyes to the tips of their wings. They can be found in fields, marshes, and near stream edges. Adults are known to eat weeds, vegetables, shrubs, and grass.
Younger grasshoppers eat lettuce, prairie sunflowers, and dandelions. As nymphs, their diet allows for a high survival rate and faster growth compared to other species.
Scientific name: Melanoplus sanguinipes
The migratory grasshopper has earned a reputation in Texas for being destructive to crops. They can be identified by their light brown coloring with dark spots and markings. Migratory grasshoppers are seen flying in swarms over long distances.
These swarms can destroy crops of vegetables, alfalfa, oats, clover and barley. They are also known to feed on vines, bushes, tree bark, and fruit. They’re most active during the day and inactive during the night.
Scientific name: Dissosteira carolina
The Carolina grasshopper, or Carolina locust, is one of the largest grasshoppers found in North America. They can grow up to nearly two and a half inches in length. The Carolinas wings can reach up to almost three inches long.
While their wings are colorful, their bodies are different shades of brown, gold, or green. They prefer to live in weedy areas and grasslands. Carolinas are also known by other names, including quakers, road-dusters, and black-winged grasshoppers.
Scientific name: Dactylotum bicolor
The painted grasshopper, also known as the rainbow grasshopper and barber pole grasshopper, is a smaller insect. They only grow to be around an inch in size, with the females of the species typically being bigger. They have black coloring with red-yellow markings and spots.
Painted grasshoppers prefer regions with lower vegetation like prairies and desert grasslands. These insects don’t ever frown wings, so they are unable to fly like many other grasshopper species.
9. Northern Mole
Scientific name: Gryllotalpidae
The Northern Mole cricket is the only cricket on this list, though both crickets and grasshoppers are in the Orthoptera Order. In many regions these guys are considered pests, and in places like Texas and Florida where they aren’t native, they can wreak havoc on crops and plants. They live underground for most of their life until reaching adulthood.
As adults, these insects grow wings allowing them to travel during their breeding seasons. They are mid-sized insects, reaching between an inch and an inch and a half in length. In Latin American regions they are seen as a sign of good luck.
Scientific name: Ageneotettix deorum
White-whispered grasshoppers are medium-sized and have a reddish-brown coloring. They prefer grasslands where they can gather in large populations. While common in Texas, they have also been found at high elevations in Colorado.
In some mixed-grass regions, they are considered a pest due to how much they eat and the density of their populations. They will feed on nearly any kind of grass and leaves, including leaves that have died and fallen to the ground.
Scientific name: Melanoplus ponderosus
Spur-throated grasshoppers are one of the most destructive grasshopper pest species due to how quickly they can ruin harvests. Despite this damage, they are also the most common species in America. They can be yellow, green, or orange, with different colored spots and markings.
Spur-throated grasshoppers have a far reach and have been found as far north as Canada. They are typically found in meadows or open fields.