Grasshopper inspection

Farm Forum

PIERRE – The South Dakota Department of Agriculture is urging land owners to take the necessary steps now to manage grasshopper populations.

“Since April snowstorms led to a late onset of spring and May rains pushed back planting, producers now find themselves at the start of haying season,” said South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch. “In the hustle and bustle of the next month, it is important to remember that now is the best time to scout for grasshoppers.”

Each summer, South Dakota faces the possibility of destructive grasshopper outbreaks. Predicting these outbreaks before they occur is very challenging and early scouting is the key to grasshopper management.

“The dry conditions in the summer of 2012 may have actually helped reduce the outbreak potential for this summer,” said Mike Stenson with the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA).

Later hatching species had limited green vegetation needed for growth and eventually egg laying. In some cases, extreme heat can actually lead to nymphal mortality. This year’s cool wet spring will aid in the suppression of early hatching species by increasing the presence of bacteria and disease within the grasshopper population.

“Even though Mother Nature has been on our side and a large scale outbreak is unlikely, it is still important to check your own fields and pastures for newly hatching grasshoppers,” said Stenson.

Grasshoppers go through five nymphal or instar stages before they reach adulthood and sexual maturity. During the nymphal stages the grasshoppers are very susceptible to environmental conditions as well as pesticide treatment practices. Once they reach adulthood they begin laying eggs almost immediately and become much harder to kill.

Although treating adults that are actively laying eggs might curb current feeding damage, it will not break the life cycle or produce benefits in subsequent years.

“Reports are coming in of grasshoppers hatching in the southern most South Dakota counties,” said Stenson. “If the hatch continues at a normal pace, the last two weeks of June will be the perfect time for grasshopper control activities.”

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture and USDA – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will be collaborating to keep the public abreast of the current grasshopper situation and provide producers with information on grasshopper treatment options specific to their operation.

For more information on grasshopper control in South Dakota, please contact Mike Stenson with the SD Department of Agriculture at 605.773.3796.