Nature Guide: Introduction To Grasshoppers

Information on the grasshopper, includes explanation of the bug as well as protecting crops from these insects.

What is it?

Grasshoppers attack many plants which may be in your garden in addition to corn. Grasshoppers will also feed on grains and grasses. This makes the corn leaves and silks very appealing to the hungry grasshopper.

What does it look like?

Grasshoppers are jumping insects and you may see them on corn stalks or leaves. Grasshoppers are usually between 1/2 and 1.5 inches in length. These garden pests have long hind legs and are known well for the music they make when rubbing these lengthy legs together. Grasshoppers can appear in a variety of shades of brown, some of which are more greenish brown. However, they can also be pale and yellowish in their coloring. Damage to corn plants from grasshopper infestation presents itself most often as large holes which are chewed in the leaves, often chewing the leaves as if they have been cut or torn as the holes grown in size to form rips. Grasshoppers may also feed on the corn kernels of the plants and when extensive grasshopper feeding occurs on a specific plant that corn plants kernels may not grow properly and will look underdeveloped.

How does it manifest?

Grasshopper damage occurs in corn plants when the grasshoppers feed on the corn leaves, silk and kernels. Most grasshopper infestations occur in climates where the weather is hot and dry. These pesky insects will look to the lush greens of the garden when dry conditions cause lawns to dry up and grasses and grains to be less than plentiful for feeding. Summer heat therefore is the absolute worst time for grasshopper infestations, while the spring and fall when weather may be more cool and wet can help to decrease grasshopper populations and corn damage. If grasshoppers feed on only a small portion of the corn crop and damage only a small part of the corn plant tissue throughout the crop, the harvest will not be appreciably affected and you should still get a good yield. However, adult females lay eggs in pods in the soil in late summer and the adults of both gender grasshoppers will continue feeding right up until the cold weather kills them. So, populations can increase and cause vast damage to corn plants in some cases.

What can you do about it?

When you first note grasshoppers around your corn plants you can treat the corn plants with a diazinon containing insecticide. Applications of the insecticide can safely be repeated at seven day intervals as long as grasshoppers and grasshopper damage are present in the corn plants. You will also want to destroy any surrounding plant debris and make sure to clear up all debris after the harvest so that eggs cannot survive in these areas.

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