In band-winged grasshoppers (subfamily Oedipodinae), the variety of hindwing colors—ranging from blue to red—is both striking and unexplained. Hindwing color can vary both within and between species. However, the functional significance, if any, of this variation is unknown. Notably, the colorful hindwings are revealed only in flight, and remain hidden in stationary individuals. Although experimental evidence is lacking, this flash of color has been proposed to 1) startle potential predators, 2) to signal the quality of a potential mate, and 3) to enhance species recognition. To elucidate their potential function(s), here I measure the spectral and spatial characteristics of the hindwing patterns in 6 different band-winged species. I then model how an avian predator or potential mate might view grasshopper wings at behaviorally relevant distances. These data suggest that there is a rapid change in conspicuousness as a grasshopper moves from rest to flight regardless of the color vision of the receiver. However, there is little within species variation in coloration or wing patterning. My results indicate that while hindwings 1) may function as a protean defense against avian predators, 2) it is unlikely that they serve as a signal of mate quality, although, they 3) may deliver enough information for species recognition. This research helps to elucidate evolutionary relationships leading to the diversification of behavior, visual systems, and coloration within band-winged grasshoppers.