Grasshoppers


John Van Duyn, North Carolina State University, Entomology Extension Specialist

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Grasshoppers (Melanoplus spp.) feed on a wide variety of plants and can be pests of corn. Grasshoppers pass the winter as egg masses that were deposited about one inch below the ground surface the previous fall. Eggs hatch in May and into June. Because the soil-born eggs are destroyed by fall and spring tillage grasshopper survival is greatest in no-tillage situations, along field margins, and in other undisturbed land away from fields (e.g. in pastures). As the grasshoppers hatch, nymphs first remain near the site of hatching but slowly spread as they get larger. Winged adults develop by mid-summer and spread across the landscape. In most cases grasshoppers move into corn fields from edges bordering undisturbed areas and also show some movement in and out of fields on a daily basis. In the field grasshoppers feed on leaves, silks, and ear tips. In years of high grasshopper populations, damage can spread far into and even completely across fields, although this is unusual. Populations in corn are often much higher following drought years and when corn is no-tillage planted into soil containing lots of eggs (e.g. killed pasture, lespedeza, or alfalfa fields).

No specific management strategy for preventing grasshoppers is recommended as they are only sporadic pests. Insecticides are sometimes employed to reduce populations and are often applied as spot treatments along field margins and headlands. To determine the need for treatment, defoliation should be estimated and compared to Table 6-3; a 5% yield loss potential will normally justify treatment. In addition to the defoliation estimate, a survey for the presence of grasshoppers and the extent of their movement will help estimate the potential for further damage and the possibility for spot treatment. (See the section on scouting).

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This page (http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/plymouth/pubs/ent/crgrass.html) was created by John W. Van Duyn Ph D. Extension Entomologist, Wayne Modlin, Res. Tech. III, and Steven Roberson.

Date Created 1/30/01.
Last revised on 10/31/03.

Published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service

Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are offered to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.

CAUTION: The information and recommendations in these Notes were developed for North Carolina conditions and may not apply elsewhere.