Hippiscus ocelote (Saussure)
Hippiscus ocelote (Saussure)
A large and robust band-winged grasshopper ranging in color from gray to brownish with a brownish-yellow abdomen. The face is vertical and also brownish-yellow in coloration. Antennae slender with a yellow base and brown tip. Males are 28-40mm long, with the females being larger at 39-53mm.
The common name “wrinkled grasshopper” comes from the pronotum, which is wrinkled and course in appearance. The pronotum frequently has a faint X-shaped marking on the dorsal surface, which is more often seen in males. Two yellow spots are also apparent on the sides of the pronotum.
Tegmina are large and marked with dark spots and light colored stripes. When the wings are closed, the light banding of the forewings meets at the tip to form a “V”. Hind wing coloration is most often yellow, but may also range from orange to pinkish, with a dark submarginal band decreasing in pigmentation at the tip.
The hind tibiae are yellow to orange, pale in color at the base, and the inner apical spur is at least twice as long as the outer. The inner hind femur is yellow to almost whitish with three black bands.
Hippiscus ocelote could be mistaken as Xanthippus corallipes (the red-shanked grasshopper), or Pardalophora haldemani, but can be distinguished by the black banding on the inner hind femur, which is lacking in the other two species. Additionally, the pronotum of H. ocelote is cut by one sulcus, whereas the pronotum in the members of the genera Pardalophora and Xanthippus is cut by two to three.
Hippiscus ocelote is common across the high plains of Colorado and Wyoming east to New Jersey and Florida, and south into Mexico. It has also been recorded from Montana and Arizona.
It prefers grassy areas in open woodlands, but also inhabits rangeland and pastures with short grass.
Suggested to be an occasional pest in pastures and rangeland. However, it seldom reaches high density and is not considered an economically damaging pest.
Feeds primarily on short-grasses, most notably bluegrass and Japanese brome, as well as blue grama and little bluestem.
Although females are poor fliers, the males are quite active. Males normally take flight when disturbed, although they are clumsy.
Frequently found in roadsides and areas of low-growing grass, but migration into crops/fields would be unlikely as a result of low densities and feeding preference.
Although little research has been conducted on H. ocelote, it has been shown that in Arizona, eggs and adults can overwinter, while only the eggs have been observed to overwinter in other regions of the United States and Mexico. Eggs hatch in the spring.
Adults are present from June to November, into winter in the southernmost parts of its range. Adults are most prevalent from September into November and it is normally one of the last grasshopper species seen prior to the winter months. Adults mate in late August and into September. During courtship, males stridulate and tap on the head of the female using their antennae. Reproductive behavior is similar to that of Pardalophora phoenicoptera and Xanthippus corallipes. Males die shortly after mating, while females may persist much longer. Eggs (usually 30) are arranged in three columns and are yellow to reddish-brown in color. Mean egg length is 6.8 mm with an average diameter of 1.7 mm.
Rarely found in high numbers and not economically important. This grasshopper prefers grasslands, open meadows, and woodlands where it feeds on a wide variety of grass species. In a study of 66 grassland sites in Colorado, 48 species of grasshopper were captured and only five were found in lower densities than H. ocelote. Will likely be found in the highest densities in tall-grass prairies and regions with greater diversity of grass species. Feeding preference and habitat choice are known, but this grasshopper is relatively understudied. It has been observed that this grasshopper is sometimes attracted to lights.
Little is known about the daily activity of H. ocelote.
University of Nebraska by Sean Whipple & Mathew L. Brust June 2011
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