Grasshoppers are hatching in the central U.S.
That could be worrisome. Kansas, for example, has a history of grasshopper "plagues," and it's home to about 115 different species.
"Fortunately, only a few of our grasshoppers are a true economic concern – a threat to field and garden crops, as well as lawns. Plus, now is the ideal time to start managing their population numbers," said Bob Bauernfeind, entomologist with K-State Research and Extension.
Grasshoppers deposit eggs in undisturbed areas, among grass and weed roots. Their preferred nurseries include fence rows, weed patches, field margins, ditch banks and roadside areas. That's also where the newly hatched nymphs start feeding in spring.
They look like tiny grasshoppers, Bauernfeind said. But, they have to grow a while and molt several times before they develop wings.
"They aren't very tough yet, either. So, if you can find a hatching area, you have a good chance of limiting their numbers with a contact spray," he explained.
The two-striped grasshopper is generally the first species to hatch. On average, differential, red-legged and other grasshopper types start to emerge about three weeks later.
"That's why you have to repeat applications, three to four times through June and into July, to eliminate new hatchlings as they appear," Bauernfeind said. "The most effective time tends to be just before or at sunrise. You have to spray each nymph directly to achieve control, and grasshoppers become much more active as daytime temperatures rise."
Numerous products are available to control grasshoppers in turf, ornamental plants and/or vegetables. Buyers must reach insecticide labels to find a product that's safe and legal to use in a particular site, he warned. If they'll be spraying near food crops, they'll also need to observe any label-specified harvest restrictions.
Bauernfeind's illustrated grasshopper factsheet is online at http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/library/entml2/L868.PDF.