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Updated distributions of Oklahoma grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acrididae) and notes on Melanoplus macclungi

Harman, Alexander John

Grasshoppers (Order: Orthoptera, Families: Acrididae and Romaleidae) collectively pose the greatest pest threat to grazing land in the Great Plains of the United States. Annually, grasshoppers consume approximately 22% of all forage in the western United States. Despite the substantial damage that grasshoppers cause, the vast majority of research has been conducted on a handful of species that are considered the most economically important. There are over 120 species of grasshoppers known to occur in Oklahoma, but there have been no comprehensive surveys undertaken since the early 1960s. Many of the earlier studies neglected tribal lands that make up a large portion of Oklahoma, leaving the grasshopper diversity poorly sampled in the eastern half of the state. In the future, understanding shifts in species in response to climate change is also important for forecasting and preventing major grasshopper outbreaks. This study surveyed grasshopper diversity throughout Oklahoma to better understand the distributions of the species that occur in Oklahoma. Specimens were collected by combination of sweep and ariel netting at sites that were expected to have high grasshopper diversity. New species reported for Oklahoma include Trachyrhachys aspera, Trimerotropis melanoptera, Metaleptea brevicornis, Melanoplus macclungi, and Phrynotettix tshivavensis. Melanoplus macclungi is a poorly known species previously reported only from Barber County, Kansas. Recognizing how little was known about this species, I conducted surveys targeting it throughout Oklahoma. Utilizing the data from historical specimens and citizen-science, I also report M. macclungi from Arkansas and Missouri. Many individuals were collected alive, so that I could learn more about their host preferences, fecundity, and other aspects of their life history.