After a dry winter, as expected, grasshoppers are becoming a problem, but they are not as severe or profuse as they were during the 2011 drought, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
“It’s mid-summer and the grasshoppers have gotten bigger; they’re now winged, so they’re moving into other crops and orchards,” said Dr. Allen Knutson , an AgriLife Extension entomologist, Dallas.
As they were in 2011, this year’s grasshopper outbreaks are connected to drought conditions, he said. From July through the fall, grasshoppers deposit their eggs 0.5 to 2 inches below the soil surface. On an average year, fungus and other diseases take a toll on egg survival, thereby reducing the first generation grasshoppers that hatch in the spring.
But most of the fungi and diseases affecting egg survival depend upon moist conditions, so during a drought year, outbreaks are expected, Knutson said. But the outbreaks this year – at least so far – have been spotty, he said.
“Though some areas have had good rains, which reduce grasshopper populations, others have not, and they’ll still have problems,” he said. “They are intense in some areas, while others don’t have any.”
Reports from AgriLife Extension county agents support Knutson’s account.
Logan Lair, AgriLife Extension agent in Navarro County , northeast of Waco, reported, “Grasshoppers, grasshoppers, grasshoppers; they are back and with a vengeance. This is affecting hay production.”
Heath Lusty, AgriLife Extension agent in Lampasas County , north of Austin, reported that along with hot, dry, windy conditions, “grasshoppers are a serious issue in some parts of the county.”
In East Texas, where grasshopper infestations were especially severe in 2011, there was only one county reporting outbreaks in June, that one from Rich Hirsch, AgriLife Extension agent in Henderson County , west of Tyler.
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More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/