Florida is home to a diverse range of grasshopper species, some of which are easy to spot in backyards and on sidewalks. In this article, Wildlife Informer highlights seven common grasshoppers in Florida, providing information on their identification and habits. From the destructive American Bird Grasshopper to the well-known Southern Lubber Grasshopper, this article offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of grasshoppers in the Sunshine State. Whether you’re a gardener, nature enthusiast, or simply curious about the insect world, this article will give you a better understanding of the commonly found grasshoppers in Florida.
7 Common Grasshoppers in Florida
Florida is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including a wide variety of grasshoppers. These fascinating insects come in all shapes and sizes, and they play an important role in the ecosystem. In this article, we will explore seven common grasshopper species that can be found in Florida, providing information on their scientific names, physical descriptions, habitats, behaviors, and any harmful or damaging effects they may have.
American Bird Grasshopper
Scientific name: Schistocerca americana
The American Bird Grasshopper is one of the most destructive insects in Florida. It is known for its ability to eat through crop fields, trees, and vegetables, making it a nightmare for gardeners and farmers. This grasshopper can fly, which means it can be found both in short vegetation and up in trees. When young, American Bird Grasshoppers are usually green, but their coloration shifts to orange when they gather in large groups. Their legs often have black or brown markings, which contrast with their overall color.
Southern Lubber Grasshopper
Scientific name: Romalea guttata
The Southern Lubber Grasshopper is the most well-known grasshopper in Florida. Its large size makes it easy to spot, and it often resides in the same areas as humans, including backyards, sidewalks, and vegetable gardens. While harmless to humans, the Southern Lubber Grasshopper can be a pest to crops and gardens. These grasshoppers are bright yellow in color, often with black patterning on their body. They are known to make a hissing noise when threatened or handled, and will froth around the mouth as a defense mechanism when stressed.
Scientific name: Hippiscus ocelete
The Wrinkled Grasshopper is a grass-feeding insect that is commonly found in pastures, particularly in North Florida. This species is considered a pest by most farmers, as it can cause damage to pastures and fields by feeding on them. Wrinkled Grasshoppers are adept at blending into their environment, with yellow and brown coloration that helps them camouflage into grasses and tree bark. One distinctive feature of this grasshopper is its hind wings, which are yellow or rose in color with a thick, dark brown to black band across them.
Scientific name: Schistocerca obscura
The Obscure Grasshopper is part of the “bird” grasshopper group, known for their strong flying ability. Like some other similar species, the Obscure Grasshopper feeds on flowers, which can cause conflict with humans if they find their way into gardens. This species can be found in abundance in Florida yards with an abundance of flower species. It closely resembles the Rusty Bird Grasshopper in appearance, but can be distinguished by its mostly green body with brown wings. The Obscure Grasshopper is larger than the Rusty Bird Grasshopper.
Southern Red-legged Grasshopper
Scientific name: Melanoplus propinoquus
The Southern Red-legged Grasshopper is a common species found in weedy areas in Florida. It is often encountered in disturbed landscapes, such as backyards, and can be a source of conflict for avid gardeners and farmers. This grasshopper goes through two generations per year, which contributes to its high population numbers across the state.
Southern Green-striped Grasshopper
Scientific name: Chortophaga australior
The Southern Green-striped Grasshopper is commonly found in areas with less vegetation, such as regions of Florida with more bare soil. This flying species makes a crackling noise with its wings when in flight, which helps identify its presence. Southern Green-striped Grasshoppers can be either brown or green in color, with smoky gray wings. This coloration is relatively common among grasshoppers, so it is important to ensure you are in their ideal ecosystem in order to properly identify this species.
Green Slant-faced Grasshopper
Scientific name: Dichromorpha viridis
The Green Slant-faced Grasshopper, also known as the Short-winged Green Grasshopper, is found exclusively in the eastern United States. It can be found in pastures, grasses, wooded areas, and fields where knee-high grasses are present. This species closely resembles the Elegant Grasshopper, but can be distinguished by its smaller head and more common occurrence in Florida. Female Green Slant-faced Grasshoppers are larger than males and have minor color variations, while males are either brown or green in color.
In conclusion, Florida is home to a diverse range of grasshopper species, each with its own unique characteristics and behaviors. While some grasshoppers can be considered pests due to their destructive feeding habits, they are an important part of the ecosystem and should be appreciated for their role in nature. By understanding and recognizing these common grasshoppers, we can develop a greater appreciation for the biodiversity that exists right in our own backyards. So next time you spot a grasshopper in Florida, take a moment to observe and appreciate these fascinating creatures.