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Grasshoppers

Article author: Pat Porter
Most recently reviewed by: Ed Bynum (2018)

Common Name(s): Differential Grasshopper, Grasshoppers, lubber grasshopper, migratory grasshopper, Packard grasshopper, red-legged grasshopper, two-striped grasshopper

Description

Grasshoppers undergo gradual metamorphosis as the nymphs (immature insects) molt to the next growth stage. This means that nymphs look very much like adults, except that the nymphs do not have fully developed wings. If a grasshopper’s wings are fully developed, then it is an adult. The long hind pair of legs is well adapted for jumping, and adults are good fliers over short distances.

There are many color variations according to species, and many species are well camouflaged and difficult to see unless they move. Other species are brightly colored.

All grasshoppers have mandibles (teeth) and damage plants by chewing chunks of tissue from leaves and other plant parts. The feeding usually begins on outside edges of leaves and the chewed area has ragged or irregular edges. This often looks quite different from the smoother, more even damage done by caterpillars.

 

Origin and Distribution

Grasshoppers are distributed worldwide and occasionally reach serious pest outbreak status causing major crop loss. Occasionally, large flights of grasshoppers are detected on radar.

Habitat & Hosts

Almost any type of plant including corn, alfalfa, Bermudagrass, cotton, millet, peanut, rice, ryegrass, sorghum, Sudangrass, soybean, sugarcane, vegetables, wheat, flowers and landscape plants.

Life Cycle

Grasshoppers deposit their eggs 1⁄2 to 2 inches below the soil surface in pod-like structures. Each egg pod consists of 20 to 120 elongated eggs cemented together. The whole mass is somewhat egg-shaped. Egg pods are very resistant to moisture and cold and easily survive the winter if the soil is not disturbed.

Eggs are deposited in fallow fields, ditches, fencerows, shelter belts and other weedy areas, as well as in crop fields, hay fields and alfalfa. Eggs begin hatching in late April or early May. Hatching peaks about mid-June and usually ends by late June. If spring weather is cool and extremely dry, hatching may be delayed and continue into July.

Young grasshoppers are called nymphs, and they undergo simple metamorphosis. They look like adults, but are smaller and have wing pads instead of wings. Nymphs go through five or six developmental stages and become adults in 40 to 60 days, depending on weather and food supplies. The adults of grasshopper species that damage crops become numerous in mid-July and deposit eggs from late July through fall. Usually only one generation of grasshoppers is produced each year.

Grasshoppers have a high reproductive capacity. The female lays an average of 200 eggs per season, and sometimes as many as 400 eggs. If favorable weather increases the number of eggs, the grasshopper population may be dramatically larger the following year. Grasshoppers cause some damage every year, but they become very destructive during outbreaks. The main factor affecting grasshopper populations is weather. Outbreaks, or exceptionally large populations, are usually preceded by several years of hot, dry summers and warm autumns. Dry weather increases the survival of nymphs and adults. Warm autumns allow grasshoppers more time to feed and lay eggs.

Management

If you live in the State of Texas, contact your local county agent or entomologist for management information. If you live outside of Texas, contact your local extension for management options.

Nosema locustae is a protozoan that can be purchased commercially to treat large areas. Its spores have been incorporated with bran to make insecticide baits such as Semaspore®, Nolo Bait® or Grasshopper Attack®. These baits kill some nymphs but almost no adults, though infected adults lay fewer eggs. Baits act too slowly and kill too few grasshoppers to be useful for immediate control.

When grasshoppers are at low numbers, handpicking them is an option. However, when at high numbers control becomes very difficult and insecticides are warranted.

Home garden control options include:

  • Carbaryl (Sevin)
  • Neem
  • Pyrethrins
  • Synthetic pyrethroids

Related Publications

 

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Differential Grasshopper


Common Name(s): Differential Grasshopper

Pest Location

Row Crop

Description

Adult differential grasshoppers are brown to olive green and yellow and up to 1-3/4 inches long. Some individuals are melanistic (black) in all instars. The hind legs (femora) are enlarged for jumping and are marked with chevron-like black markings.

There are a number of grasshopper species common in Texas, including: the redlegged grasshopper, Melanoplus femurrubrum (DeGeer); the white-whiskered grasshopper, Ageneotettix deorum (Scudder), the bigheaded grasshopper, Aulocara elliotti (Thomas). Other grasshoppers that may be recognized are: the lubber grasshopper, Brachystola magna (Girard); Carolina grasshopper, Dissosteira carolina (Linnaeus); High Plains grasshopper, Dissosteira longipennis (Thomas); twostriped grasshopper, Melanoplus bivittatus(Say); migratory grasshopper, Melanoplus sanguinipes (Fabricius); eastern lubber grasshopper, Romalea guttata (Latreille); and American grasshopper, Schistocerca americana (Drury).

Habitat & Hosts

Most grasshoppers are general feeders on the leaves and stems of many types of plants and cause complete destruction of the plant. When numerous, they can cause injury to a large number of crops including corn, cotton, forage grasses, soybeans and rice. Large numbers of grasshopper nymphs can develop in tall weedy areas, attracting little attention. However, when they become winged adults, they can fly and disperse greater distances, and suddenly appear injuring landscape and vegetable plants in the garden.

Life Cycle

Winter is spent in the egg stage, or during mild winters as an adult.  Eggs are deposited in 1 inch long packet-like masses or pods 1/2 to 2 inches deep in the soil and sod clumps. Each packet can contain many (over 25) eggs. Eggs are laid in grassy areas of uncultivated land such as roadsides, field margins and pastures. Tiny grasshopper nymphs hatch from eggs in the spring. Nymphs resemble wingless adults and develop (molt) through five or six stages (instars) as they grow larger and develop wing pads.  Nymphs develop into adults in 40 to 60 days.  There is generally one generation per year.

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June beetle


Most recently reviewed by: Charles Allen (2018)

Common Name(s): June Beetle, May Beetle

Pest Location

Urban Structural

Description

Adult beetles, commonly referred to as May beetles or June bugs are ½ to 5/8 inches long, and reddish brown. White grubs are “C”-shaped larvae, up to 1 inch long, with cream-colored bodies and brown head capsules. They have three pairs of legs, one on each of the first three segments behind the head.

There are more than 100 species of scarab beetles from several genera (e.g.,Cyclocephala, Phyllophaga and others) in Texas that are considered to be white grubs, May beetles and June bugs. However, the most common is Phyllophaga crinita. Their biologies are similar, but species differ in distribution, habitat preference, length of life cycle and seasonal occurrence. Other common species include the southern masked chafer, Cyclocephala immaculata (Oliver), and the green June beetle, Cotinis nitida (Linnaeus). The Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica, introduced into the northeastern United States and migrating west and south, has recently been detected in some Texas counties.

Cyclocephala melanocephala.

Cyclocephala melanocephala.

 

Habitat & Hosts

Phyllophaga crinita is common in Texas turfgrass, particularly Bermudagrass, St. Augustine grass and tall fescue. Feeding of large numbers of grubs causes lawns to turn yellow and die. Severely damaged grass can be “rolled up” like a carpet. Grubs also feed on the roots of weeds, vegetable transplants and ornamental plants. In agriculture, they are important pests of forage, corn, sorghum and sugarcane. Most severe injury to plants is caused by large (third stage or instar) grubs feeding on roots in the fall and spring. White grubs are frequently encountered tilling garden soil or by sifting through soil underneath damaged turfgrass. Adults can be abundant around lights in the spring of the year. Larval stages eat roots of grasses, vegetable and ornamental plants; Adults can be a nuisance around lights at night in early summer; medically harmless.

Life Cycle

Adults begin to emerge in spring. During adult flights large numbers of beetles can be attracted to lights. Peak flights occur in mid to late June in central Texas. Females, less attracted to lights, tunnel 2 to 5 inches into the soil and deposit eggs. In 3 to 4 weeks, small grubs (larvae) hatch from eggs and develop through three stages (instars), with the first two stages lasting about 3 weeks. The last larval stage remains in the soil from the fall through spring. In spring and early summer, white grubs pupate 3 to 6 inches deep in the soil. Adults emerge from pupae in about 3 weeks. There is one generation per year, but in north Texas, development may take two years.

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