Monday, 8 July 2019

Insect of the Week (July 9) – Doppelgangers: Grasshoppers

Bruner grasshopper (
Melanoplus bruneri) adult. 
Photo credit: S. Barkley, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
The case of the prairie grasshoppers: There are 80 grasshopper species on the prairies but only a few that are considered pests. These include Packard (Melanopus packardii), clearwinged (Camnula pellucida), migatory (Melanopus sanguinipes), two-striped (Melanopus bivittatus) and Bruner Melanoplus bruneri) grasshoppers. They are recognizable as grasshoppers (similar body shape and distinctive large rear legs) and, depending on the species, range in size from 21 to 40 centimetres (8.25 to 15.75 inches). Most of these pest species can be distinguished by colouring and size. However, the Bruner and migratory grasshoppers are difficult to tell apart, needing to rely on examining the male genitalia (see Insect of the Week post from July , 2018).
For more information about grasshopper pests, see our Insect of the Week page!

Packard grasshopper – egg, nymph, adult

Clearwinged grasshopper – egg, nymph, adult

Migratory grasshopper – adult
Joseph Berger,

Two-striped grasshopper – adult
John Gavloski, Manitoba Agriculture,
Food and Rural Development

More information related to the Bruner grasshopper:

Specific information about these grasshoppers, other pests and natural enemies can be found in the updated Field Crop and Forage Pests and their Natural enemies in Western Canada field guide.

The case of the innocuous versus the evil twin: When making pest management decisions, be sure that the suspect is actually a pest. This can be challenge since insects often mimic each other or look very similar. An insect that looks, moves and acts like a pest may in fact be a look-alike or doppelganger.
Doppelgangers may be related (e.g. same genus) or may not be related, as in the case of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) and viceroys (Limenitis achrippus).  Doppelgangers are  usually relatively harmless but sometimes the doppelganger is a pest yet their behaviour, lifecycle or hosts may be different.

Correctly identifying a pest enables selection of the most accurate scouting or monitoring protocol. Identification and monitoring enables the application of economic thresholds. It also enables a producer to select and apply the most effective control option(s) including method and timing of application.  For the rest of the growing season, the Insect of the Week will feature insect crop pests and their doppelgangers.
Review previously featured insects by visiting the Insect of the Week page.