Grasshoppers an important part of the life cycle

A grasshopper clings to a window in Scottsbluff on Monday. Grasshoppers have powerful hind legs which allows them to jump away from predators.

Seasonal dryness has brought significant numbers of grasshoppers to fields and rangelands throughout the Panhandle, an issue which may become more severe if not controlled early on.

Pest damage continues to be a concern of producers every growing season, but this year’s insect invasion involves a greater number of grasshopper species which target range and farm ground alike, eating holes in any green matter to be found.

UNL Entomologist and Field Crops Specialist Jeffrey Bradshaw said the key to preventing significant grasshopper damage is to take action to eradicate pests before they become adults and have developed wings. Bradshaw said once grasshoppers develop wings, using insecticide becomes less effective, therefore pest numbers become more difficult to control.

“Grasshoppers will eat just about anything and everything,” Bradshaw said. “Every crop is susceptible.”

Once grasshoppers invade field edges, over time the pest will proceed to move inward and damage leaves, stalks, roots and a wide variety of grass elements.

A specific focus on range and pasture land infestation is present every year, due to the fact pest control throughout large areas such as these, is more difficult.

Methods of removing pests from invaded crop and rangeland includes a number of processes. Bradshaw said pesticides can be effective in stopping the insects but producers must apply the proper chemical for the proper growth stage.

The following insecticides are recommended by UNL Crop Watch professionals:

Malathion and carbaryl are labeled on most crops along with range/pasture and non-crop areas, but these products are less effective on mature grasshoppers. Acephate (e.g., Orthene) is labeled for non-crop use, but the only common Nebraska crops it is labeled for are soybean and dry beans. Dimilin is labeled for range/pasture and non-crop use, but it’s only additional label is on soybeans, and it is only active against immature grasshoppers. One advantage of Dimilin as a border spray would be the lowered impact on natural enemies, especially those effective on spider mites.

Perhaps the best products for this type of treatment are esfenvalerate (e.g., Asana) and lambda-cyhalothrin (e.g., Warrior II), because they are labeled for non-crop use and for use on several crops (corn, soybeans, sugar beets, dry beans, sunflowers, potatoes). Mustang MAX is labeled for grass forage/fodder/hay crops and also can be used on field corn, seed corn, popcorn, alfalfa, sunflower, sorghum, soybeans and wheat. Numerous other products are specifically labeled for grasshopper control on various crops (EC 130).

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