Oedaleus asiaticus Bey. Bienko is a significant grasshopper pest species occurring in north Asian grasslands. Outbreaks often result in significant loss in grasses and economic losses. Interestingly, we found this grasshopper was mainly restricted to Stipa-dominated grassland. We suspected this may be related to the dominant grasses species, Stipa krylovii Roshev, and hypothesized that S. krylovii contributes to optimal growth performance and population distribution of O. asiaticus. A 4 year investigation showed that O. asiaticus density was positively correlated to the above-ground biomass of S. krylovii and O. asiaticus growth performance variables (survival rate, size, growth rate) were significantly higher in Stipa-dominated grassland. A feeding trial also showed that O. asiaticus had a higher growth performance when feeding exclusively on S. krylovii. In addition, the choice, consumption and the efficiency of conversion of ingested food (ECI) by O. asiaticus was highest for S. krylovii compared with other plant species found in the Asian grasslands. These ecological and biological traits revealed why O. asiaticus is strongly associated with Stipa-dominated grasslands. We concluded that the existence of S. krylovii benefited the growth performance and explained the distribution of O. asiaticus. These results are useful for improved pest management strategies and developing guidelines for the monitoring of grasshopper population dynamics against the background of vegetation succession and changing plant communities in response to activities such as grazing, fire and climate change.