Name: Melanoplus spp.

Alias: Grasshoppers are best known for their large, spring-loaded back legs that give them their “hopper” name and their insatiable appetite for pretty much anything. They have a long, teardrop shape with a bulbous head. They have large eyes and pincers used as chewing mouthparts. Juveniles and adults look similar, the only real difference is size and adults are reproductive. They can come in any color imaginable, but are usually some shade of brown, gray or green. They lay their soil in hard ground and they prefer hard compact roadsides the best. They usually only have one generation per year.

Crimes: They can feed on just about anything, from crops to landscapes and gardens. In large populations, they can create an epidemic of biblical proportions. Large populations occur infrequently, and are dependent on spring temperatures, moisture, predation and availability of food.

Redeeming Qualities: They make for cheap fish bait and poultry feed.

Sentence: Eggs can be disrupted before hatching with simple soil tillage. Rotating crops to something that is less desirable also may help. There are many insecticides labeled for grasshopper control. Some common insecticides, such as carbaryl, even come in a bait form. It is difficult to control adults in a small area such as a yard. You may kill them, but if your neighbors don’t kill them as well, a new group will hop right back. Spot treatments of insecticides in the spring while they are emerging juveniles can be effective. Be sure to always read and follow label instructions on any pesticide.

For more information on dangerous and beneficial bugs, call UI Extension educator Joseph Sagers at 208-745-6685 or email

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