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Citrus Pests


Devastating grasshopper


Scientific name


Melanoplus devastator (Orthoptera: Acrididae)

Similar species


migratory grasshopper, Melanoplus sanguinipes



United States: California, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada.

Worldwide: North America.

Native to North America.

Diagnostic characteristics

  • Female is 21 - 23 mm (0.83 - 0.91 in.) in length.
  • Male is 18.5 - 22 mm (0.73 - 0.87 in.) in length.
  • Body is pale grey and tan with dark grey spots; the underside of the abdomen is pale green to yellow.
  • The second largest hind leg segment (tibia) is usually blue but occasionally red.
  • Elongate shape with a greatly enlarged hind leg segment (femur).
  • The leathery forewings and the membranous hindwings are held straight back and extend past the tip of the abdomen.
  • Antennae are short and thread-like (filiform) with 25 - 26 segments.
  • Feet (tarsi) are composed of three segments.
  • Six nymphal instars.
  • 3.4 - 11.7 mm (0.13 - 0.46 in.) in length.
  • Pale yellow, pale tan, or pale green.
  • Shape is similar to adults but smaller.
  • Antennae of first instar larvae have 13 segments, increasing in number with each molt to reach 24 - 25 segments.
  • 3.9 - 4.4 mm (0.15 - 0.17 in.).
  • Contained within an egg pod approximately 19.05 - 21.6 mm (0.75 - 0.85 in.) in length.
  • Pale yellow.


Citrus hosts

All Citrus species and their hybrids.

Non-citrus hosts

Wide host range. Preferentially feeds upon:

  • barley grasses, Hordeum spp.
  • brome, Bromus spp.
  • filaree, Erodium ssp.
  • legumes
  • Stipa spp.
  • tarweeds, Hemizonia spp.
  • wild lettuce, Lactuca ssp.

Transiently feeds upon:

  • alfalfa, Medicago sativa
  • almond, Prunus dulcis
  • avocado, Persea americana
  • bean, Phaseolus vulgaris
  • beet, Beta vulgaris
  • cabbage, Brassica oleracea var. capitata
  • corn, Zea mays
  • dwarf mistletoe, Arceuthobium campylopodum
  • grape, Vitis spp.
  • marigold, Tagetes spp.
  • plum, Prunus salacina
  • prune, Prunus domestica
  • timothy, Phleum pratense
  • tomato, Solanum lycopersicum

Host damage


Feeds along edges of leaves.


Occasionally feed on the epidermis of stems.



In California, nymphs emerge from overwintered eggs in April and mature by early July. New eggs are deposited in mid- to late September. Nymphs feed on foliage with a preference for new growth. The devastating grasshopper prefers semi-arid or Mediterranean habitats and also lower areas at the foothills of mountain ranges, ridges, slopes, and banks of ravines where soil is rocky.



Devastating grasshoppers are good fliers. They were responsible for enormous damage to rangeland in the United States in 1957 and 1958, destroying 3 - 4.5 million acres by reaching densities of 35 - 100 feeding grasshoppers per square yard.



Bruner, L. 1893. The more destructive locusts of America north of Mexico. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.

Flint, M.L. 2008. U.C. pest management guidelines: Citrus grasshoppers (

Rentz, D.C., and D.B. Weissman. 1982. Faunal affinities, systematics, and bionomics of the Orthoptera of the California Channel Islands. Univ. Calif. Press.

Scharpf, R.F., and T.W. Koerber. 1986. Destruction of shoots, flowers, and fruit of dwarf mistletoe by grasshoppers in California. Can. J. For. Res. 16: 166-168.

Schell, S., and S. Schell. 2007. Devastating grasshopper species fact sheet. In R.E. Pfadt. 1994. Field guide to common western grasshoppers. Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station, Bull. 912.(



Martin, K.W., A.C. Hodges, and N.C. Leppla


Citrus Pests
Content last updated June, 2012