This species is native of the steppes of Central Asia, but it is nowadays present in most of Europe, in the eastern Palearctic ecozone, in North Africa and in the Near East.
It is a medium-sized grasshopper characterized by a significant sexual dimorphism. The adult males grow up to 14–26 millimetres (0.55–1.02 in) long, while females reach 21–40 millimetres (0.83–1.57 in) of length. They can be encountered from July through October in fields, in dry meadows and arid environments.
Calliptamus italicus, maleThis species is quite variable in size and colour. The basic coloration of the body varies from gray to brownish-reddish. The wings have a characteristic reddish or pinkish coloration, better visible when the insect is in flight. Quite evident is the dilating membrane ('pallium') of the subgenital plate of males.
Calliptamus italicus is a polyphagous species, able to feed upon various wild plants, but also on crops, especially legumes. Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is among the species preferred by juveniles, but there have been reported sporadic cases of infestation on grains and grapevine.
Their life cycle lasts one year. The egg-laying takes place in late August - early September, usually in rocky areas exposed to the south. The female lays eggs in the soil within an ootheca that can hold 25 to 55 eggs wrapped in a spongy secretion. The appearance of the larvae takes place in May–June; the first adults appear in July.
In certain circumstances this species may develop a tendency to gregariousness with formation of very numerous aggregates, potentially harmful to crops.
SubspeciesCalliptamus italicus var. albotibialis Nedelkov, 1907
Calliptamus italicus var. italicus Nedelkov, 1907
The following subspecies proposed in the past are no more accepted. They are currently included in the nominal subspecies.