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Grasshoppers

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Uniramia
Class: Insecta
Order: Orthoptera
Suborder: Caelifera

Grasshopper Damage and Control    Grasshopper Identification    Grasshopper Life Cycle    

Different Kinds of Grasshoppers 

Crickets    Grasshoppers    Katydids    Locusts    Wetas  

Grasshoppers are often referred to as short-horned grasshoppers in order to distinguish them from bush crickets 
due to their short antennae.  They are different from locusts in that locusts change their color and their behavior during high levels of population while grasshoppers do not exhibit these behaviors.

Grasshopper Identification

The antennae on a grasshopper is shorter than the rest of its body.  Long hind legs are give grasshoppers their great leaping ability.  Grasshoppers have wings but their front wings are not used for flight.  Females are identified by their size (they are larger than the males) and by the presence of short ovipositors.
Some species of grasshoppers rub their hind legs against their forewings or abdomen to make noise.  They also create 
sounds by snapping their wings together when in flight.  Some species of grasshopper have a tympana, a hearing 
organ that consists of a membrane stretched across a frame backed by air.  This tympana is found on the sides of the 
first abdominal segment.
Grasshoppers are different from bush crickets because of the number of segments in their antennae, the structure of the female ovipositor, the location of their sound organ and the ways they produce sound. 

There are five major families in the suborder Caelifera used 
to distinguish grasshoppers from other similar insects:

  • Acrididae is made up of field grasshoppers and locusts, large 
    bodied that includes those insects that swarm.
  • Eumastacidae are made up of monkey grasshoppers, those 
    that blend in well with their surroundings.
  • Tanaoceridae is made up of tanaocerids.
  • Tetrigidae includes grouse locusts, pygmy grasshoppers and 
    pygmy locusts.
  • Tridactylidae are made up of pygmy mole crickets.

There are over 10,000 species of grasshoppers worldwide.  They have short, thickened antennae and they are usually 
more visible because of their wings and legs and may be brightly colored. 

Grasshopper Life Cycle

There are three stages to a grasshoppers life cycle:

  • Egg
  • Nymph
  • Adult

Grasshoppers develop from egg to nymph to adult within two months.

Grasshopper eggs are laid in the ground with a foamy substance used to protect them during incubation.  Sometimes a female will lay her egg pods in plant roots and manure.  The eggs within the egg pod often look like rice grains.  Grasshopper nymphs hatch during the spring and summer months and tunnel through the ground, followed by other nymphs as they hatch.  Nymphs are most susceptible to pesticides, disease, parasites and predators during their early stage.  
Adults shed their exoskeleton several times during their life time.
Grasshoppers breed and grow in weedy, undisturbed areas such as roadside ditches, fence rows, untilled pastures and in crops that stay around for more than a season.

Long-Headed Grasshopper    Creek Grasshopper    Stem Grasshopper and Bark-Mimicking Grasshopper 

Southeastern Lubber Grasshopper    Club Horned Grasshopper    White-Whiskered Grasshopper 

Cudweed Grasshopper    

Long-Headed Grasshopper

Identified by its green color with brown strips on its head, the long-headed grasshopper gets its name because of itsLongheaded-Grasshopper long head which has short and flat antennae.  It has long hind legs as well.  When disturbed, the Long Headed Grasshopper opens its wings, makes noise and shows its pinkish-red abdomen.
They feed on blades of grass, are slow moving and are poor flyers.
This grasshopper depends on camouflage to avoid predators.

Creek Grasshopper

The creek grasshopper gets its name because it swims on the surface of water.  Its body has a green, shiny smooth surface with black stripes on both side of its body.  It has a brown head and thorax.Creek Grasshopper


Stem Grasshopper and Bark-Mimicking Grasshopper

The body color of a stem grasshopper resembles twigs or stems, hence its name.  They have long antennae and both 
male and females are winged.  During the day they rest on trees with rough bark, blending in to be undetected.Stem Grasshopper
The same is true for the Bark-mimicking grasshopper.  It rests along the grainy part of trees blending in with the bark. The Bark Mimicking Grasshopper has a long, sword like antennae and both males and females are winged.

Southeastern Lubber Grasshopper

The southeastern lubber grasshopper is one of the most commonly known grasshoppers to cause damage in Florida and the southeastern United States.  They are found from North Carolina west through southern Tennessee into Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and into parts of Texas.  They are the most distinctive grasshopper in the southern US because it has wings but does not fly.  They can only jump short distances and travel mainly by walking and crawling.
Florida Southeastern Lubber Grasshopper
Nymphs  of the southeastern lubber grasshopper are identified by their black bodies and yellow stripes.  Their front legs and the side of their heads are red.  Adults have a dull yellow body color with black spots.  They have yellow front wings and their hind wings have a reddish color with a black border.
After mating, the female uses the tip of her abdomen to dig a small hole into the soil.  There she lays 50 eggs surrounded by foam.
These grasshoppers produce one generation per year and eggs usually hatch in February to late March.

The southeastern lubber grasshopper likes open pine-woods, weedy field and roadside vegetation.  They will feed on citrus groves and vegetable fields, daylilies and cultivated crops.  Their brightly colored body warns predators that they contain toxic substances.  They also secrete a foamy spray and hiss loudly when predators are near.  They can regurgitate recently consumed plant material that is dark brown in color and is known as 'tobacco spit' that can stain clothing.

Club Horned Grasshopper

The Club Horned grasshopper is found in the grasslands of western Canada and the Northern United States and extends into southern Arizona and New Mexico.  They are a pest of grasses, mountain meadows and parks. TheyClubhornded Grasshopper female have been known in the past to attack wheat crops. These grasshoppers feed on grasses like wheat grass, June grass, Sandberg bluegrass, needle thread and Kentucky bluegrass.  Males can fly, but females do not because of their short wings.
The adult Club Horned grasshopper is medium sized with gray or green markings and a club shaped antennae, hence its name.  Its head has a dark stripe beneath its eye.  Nymphs hatch in early May to June and go through four instars, developing rapidly.  Predators of this grasshopper include birds, rodents and spiders.

White-Whiskered Grasshopper

The White-whiskered grasshopper is widely found in the grasslands of North America and is a pest of rangeland 
grasses because it not only feeds on the green leaves of grasses, but ground litter such as leaves, seeds, dung of 
livestock and dead insects.  Its often severs the leaves of the plant it feeds from.  The white whiskered grasshopper isWhite Whiskered Grasshopper one of the smallest rangeland grasshoppers.  They prefer to feed on wheat and Kentucky bluegrass, but it also eats blue grama, western wheatgrass, needle thread and sedge.  This grasshopper is medium size and reddish brown with a slightly slanted face.  It also has a white antennae,  long wings and hind legs that are red to orange in color. 
They usually fly near the ground.  When courting, the adult male approaches moving females 
and gives visual signals to her by raising and lowering his hind femora and antennae.  After mating, the female deposits her eggs in blue grama or buffalo grass sod and covers them with litter and soil particles.

Cudweed Grasshopper

The Cudweed grasshopper inhabits the grasslands east of the Rocky Mountains.  They feed on the leaves of cudweed and Sagewort.  They themselves are fed upon by sheep and cattle in New Mexico. The female weighs three times more than the male.  Nymphs and adults spend most of the time during the day feeding on the host plant.  They also rest on sagebrush.Cudweed Grasshopper female
When the suns rays hit them, they position themselves with their head pointed up and their hind legs lowered perpendicular to the suns rays.  When disturbed, they jump up to eight inches from stem to stem on plants while keeping their basking positions.
The cudweed grasshopper is medium sized pale green with short wings.  Their color often matches the host plant. They have small brown spots on their body and a broad green band that runs behind their eye on the side of their head.  Cudweed Grasshopper nymphs turn several shades of green when going through the instars of their development.

Grasshopper Damage and Control of Grasshoppers

Damage to crops and other plants from grasshoppers tends to run in cycles.  Intensity of insect population and their damage to plants will peak for a year or two, then (in most cases) taper off to little or no damage for a period of one to several years.
The key to controlling grasshoppers is knowing when to treat and what stage to treat -- as well as using the proper products for area to be treated.  There are several pesticides labeled for killing or controlling grasshoppers but not many of these products can be used on food crops.  When treating for these pests, choose your products carefully.

Most reports of grasshopper damage usually concern vegetable plants or other food crops.  In peak cycles and during the heat of the summer, grasshoppers will migrate from vegetable crops to non-food crops (shrubs, lawns, young trees, etc.) as their preferred food sources are diminished.  Safer Soap is a product which is labeled for use on certain food crops.  This product has a decent initial knock-down of most pests listed on the label but do not expect much of a residual.  Products such as Talstar One will give a good knock-down and good residual, but can only be used on non-food plants such as shrubs, young trees, etc..

To enhance both desired characteristics (knock-down and residual) you can tank mix Talstar One with other products.  A spreader sticker will help immensely with residual; Exciter will give a greater initial knock-down (or quick kill.)
Exciter contains high levels of pyrethrins and synergist, which will give a quick kill but little or no residual.  By mixing Talstar One with Exciter and spreader sticker you will have a fast knock-down and a long lasting insecticide which will last longer on plant vegetation.

If you live in an area that tends to have problems with grasshoppers, treat early in the year.  (Seeing one or two grasshoppers a week is not considered a real "grasshopper infestation.")  By using a slow release granular product in early Spring of the year you can kill a large portion of the grasshoppers in their nymphal stage as they make their way to the surface.  Talstar PL is a good, slow release insecticide granule.  If you are not able to use granules, Talstar is also available in liquid concentrate which is mixed with water and sprayed through either a pump type sprayer, hose-end sprayer or power spray equipment.

Credits:
Our thanks to Lani Powell for research and writing which 
made this information page possible!

Grasshopper Identification    Grasshopper Life Cycle    Different Kinds of Grasshoppers 

Crickets    Katydids    Locusts    Wetas      Pest Control    Animals and Pests    Grasshoppers