Hop to it

They’re in your backyard, on your windows and hiding in the grass.

Grasshoppers are out in full force this season.

Erin Hodgson, Iowa State University entomologist, said she isn’t exactly sure why there is an abundance of grasshoppers, but said it could be because of July’s dry spell.

The grasshoppers typically move from the grassy pasture areas that dry down in dry times and move over to field crops like corn and soybeans because they are looking for green foliage, she said in an interview with the Times-Republican.

As grasshoppers move from place to place they can cause structural damage.

They can feed on window screens and other structures around homes and farms, Hodgson said.

“For a homeowner they can be a nuisance to trees, shrubs, ornamentals, fruits, veggies or anything that we like to have around the house,” Hodgson said. “They’re pretty non-discretionary. If it’s green they like to eat it. They’re not too picky.”

Grasshoppers are active until it freezes.

“If you have vegetation around the house or around the farm they will be eating that or constantly mating or laying eggs and active until basically they freeze to death,” Hodgson said.

Preventing grasshoppers from invading your property is difficult, she continued.

“It’s really, really hard because they are a landscape pest,” Hodgson said. “It’s not like you can take away a food source and they are going to starve to death because they feed on basically anything that’s green and we have a lot of different species. Even if you can target one species there’s several that are very active in Iowa. This is something that’s very difficult to do.”

A larger effort is needed to prevent grasshoppers from invading your turf.

“If you’re doing something around your home or farm to kill grasshoppers and your neighbors aren’t, you could still have grasshoppers moving in,” the entomologist said. “You have to think about it county level or bigger to really have a positive impact on their numbers and it’s not easily managed.”

However, for the most part they move in and out quickly.

“Even if you have grasshoppers this week, next week you may not,” Hodgson said. “It doesn’t mean you’re going to have a season-long plague or anything.”

If someone mows or burns an area it forces them to move.

“Just thinking about timing of when you’re mowing or burning green vegetation is something to consider,” Hodgson said.