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Published by: Kirk's Lawn Care on Mar 03, 2012
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Fact sheet
For a comprehensive list of our publications visit www.rcre.rutgers.edu

Insect Pests of the Home Garden Series

Gerald M. Ghidiu, Ph.D., Extension Specialist in Vegetable Entomology

Differential grasshopper adult (M. Rice).

Redlegged grasshopper adult (M. Rice).

Grasshopper nymph (M. Rice).

Grasshopper egg pod (K. Steffey).

Damage to corn ear tip (M. Rice).

Damage to eggplant.

Grasshoppers usually are not an important pest in New Jersey gardens, but nearly all vegetables can be attacked, and grasshoppers appear to be especially fond of sweet corn and tomatoes. Grasshoppers generally feed on and sometimes devour entire leaves, although they may feed on any part of the plant above ground. On corn, they attack the ear tips and tassel, and eat large ragged holes in the leaves. Grasshopper damage usually starts on the edges of the garden or field.

fence rows, and hedgerows. The eggs hatch in late May through June, and the young grasshoppers, or nymphs, feed on many plants and weeds, including the grasses. The nymphs become adults in late July and early August, and may migrate into vegetable and flower crops at this time. The females deposit egg pods in the soil during late August to early September that will overwinter to hatch the following spring. Grasshoppers readily migrate into the garden area from surrounding areas in late summer and are easily noticed on most crops. In New Jersey, control of this pest is seldom warranted because grasshoppers are such general feeders and appear late in the season. However, the following management tactics may help reduce the grasshopper populations:

New Jersey has several species of grasshoppers, two important species being the differential grasshopper, Melanoplus differentialis (Thomas), and the redlegged grasshopper, Melanoplus fermurrubrum (DeGeer). Grasshoppers range in length from 1 to 2 inches or more, depending on species. Their color varies from mottled brown to brownish-gray or brownish-black. The body generally is long and narrow, slightly deeper than wide, with prominent eyes and jaws. Their antennae are always much shorter than their body. Their hind legs are enlarged for jumping, the adults are winged, and most grasshoppers are strong fliers. The abdomen of the female ends in 4 hard movable prongs that function as a digger to deposit eggs in the soil. Eggs are elongate and laid in masses of 20–120, cemented together to form a hard case. The whole unit is called an egg pod. A single female may deposit from 8 to 25 egg pods during her lifetime in the soil. The nymphs, or immature forms, look like the adults but lack fully developed wings.

Management of Grasshoppers:
1. Work the soil in and around the garden thoroughly in the fall to destroy grasshopper eggs. 2. Hand pick grasshoppers and destroy them. Insect nets may be needed to catch active grasshoppers. 3. Follow a short crop rotation when possible. 4. Plant early maturing varieties, and harvest crops as soon as possible, to avoid heavy late season grasshopper populations. 5. Several insecticides are labeled for grasshopper control in the garden. Thorough spray coverage of plant foliage, as well as repeated applications, may be necessary for effective grasshopper control. Read and follow all label directions and precautionary statements before using any pesticide.

Life History:
Grasshoppers spend the winter as eggs in the egg pods in the ground in fields, gardens, along roadsides,

© 2006 by Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension, (NJAES), Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Desktop publishing by Rutgers' Cook College Resource Center Revised: February 2006

Distributed in cooperation with U.S. Department of Agriculture in furtherance of the Acts of Congress on May 8 and June 30, 1914. Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension works in agriculture, family and community health sciences, and 4-H youth development. Dr. Karyn Malinowski, Director of Extension. Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension provides information and educational services to all people without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension is an Equal Opportunity Program Provider and Employer.

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