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Trimerotropis infantilis , Zayante Band-Winged Grasshopper

The Zayante band-winged grasshopper (Trimerotropis infantilis) is found only in a small area of the Santa Cruz Mountains in California known as the Zayante sand hills. It was first described in 1984 from specimens collected from several poorly documented sites, and at several different times. It is a relatively small insect, with the males reaching 13.7-17.2mm and the females reaching 19.7-21.6mm. Overall tan/gray in coloration, with darker banding on the forewings, pale yellow on the hind wings, and blue on the hind tibiae. They are good fliers, and known to jump 3-7ft (making a buzzing sound while doing it) when disturbed. They are herbivorous, and the nymphs are found in the same area as adults, typically consuming the same food source.

The ideal habitat for these grasshoppers is fairly specific. They like a sandy substrate, bare in some places, but with some sparse vegetation, shrubs, and trees. Currently, this species is found in very few locations, and loss of this specific habitat is a serious issue for the survival of this species. Very little is known about the historical distribution, but all indications are that the population has been reduced, especially in recent years in conjunction with increased urbanization and mining. This habitat is shared by several other endemic species of plants and insects, which are either already threatened, or nearly so.

This grasshopper was listed as an endangered species in January of 1997, and rated with an 8 on the recovery priority scale, meaning it has a high recovery potential. Threats include habitat destruction, the introduction of non-native species to the habitat, pesticides, and over-collecting. Small amounts of land are being protected by organizations in California, but not all of these areas have the grasshopper. Actions to protect other species in the area have benefited the Zayante band-winged insect by protecting habitat from mining and urbanization. Other possible efforts would include further minimization of habitat destruction and degradation, and research of habitat requirements for long term survival of the species.




Federal Register: July 7, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 131). "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat for the Zayante Band-Winged Grasshopper," p. 41918.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Draft Recovery Plan for Two Insects (Polyphylla barbata and Trimerotropis infantilis) and Four Plants (Chorizanthe pungens var. hartwegiana, Chorizanthe robusta var. hartwegii, Erysimum teretifolium, and Polygonum hickmanii) from the Santa Cruz Mountains, California." Portland, Oregon: The Service, 1997, p. 21.

Written by: Jenna DeNicola, 2006

Updated: Eric Denemark, 2008

Image credit: The Xerces Society