Babes in the Prairie

Baby bugs are not sweet and cuddly like, say, Golden Retriever puppies, but they have their own charm. Here are a few of the less-seen prairie babies.

Greenstriped Grasshopper (Family Acrididae)

Greenstriped Grasshopper are found east of the Rockies from April through the first half of summer. The farther east you go, the more common they are. In the eastern half of their range, they are partial to brome grass, the alien grass that takes over many old fields, but they eat other grasses, too, and the occasional forb. The (flightless) nymphs like wet areas, grassy swales, stream banks and roadside ditches but the (flying) adults may disperse into pretty dry conditions.

Melanoplus Grasshopper (Family Acrididae)

The Melanoplus grasshopper/locust, in the Spur-throated grasshopper subfamily, is found in fields, cities, suburbs, and open woods. These are insects of open spaces, and are an important food source for birds including kestrels, marsh and red-shouldered hawks. Skunks, snakes, and toads eat the adults; skunks, shrews, mice and moles feed on eggs in soil. Dramatic population explosions experienced by some arid-country species of Melanoplus grasshoppers when unusually high rainfall results in lots of vegetation and in extraordinary numbers of eggs hatching.

Carolina Locust (Family Acrididae)

Carolina Locusts belong to the Band-winged Grasshoppers subfamily. Grasses, herbaceous plants, sometimes beans are their preferred diet. Carolina locusts come in tans through rusty browns. As a group, Band-winged grasshoppers are conspicuous in flight due to their color-banded flying wings, but they are awesomely camouflaged at rest.