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Grasshoppers in March and April?

Grasshoppers in March and April? Fallon/Carter County Extension Agent Elin Kittelmann says she has heard of several people seeing grasshoppers in the area right now, but good news is they are probably not causing enough damage for concern.

There are two to 3 species of grasshoppers that overwinter in eastern Montana. They go in to winter as juveniles and become active as soon as it warms up in the spring. These species hatch in later summer and complete their lifecycle and become adults in the spring. They are found in rangeland and usually do not do much damage for a few reasons.

They feed on spring grass that is able to recover. When they are feeding on rangeland during drought conditions in July is when the most damage occurs. Also, the overwintering grasshoppers do not get to a high enough population to do a lot of damage. Populations of these overwintering grasshoppers need to reach 10-15 adults per square yard to be of economic concern.

"So what species of grasshopper are you seeing?" asks Kittelmann. There is a good chance that the species residents are seeing now is the red shanked grasshopper, which is one of the few species of grasshopper in Montana that overwinters as immature nymphs. The red shanked grasshopper inhabits grassland and shrub-grass communities. They become active on warm days and feed on almost exclusively grass. In spring both the nymphs and the adults feed heavily on the green, early growth of cool-season plants such as western wheatgrass, needle-and-thread, junegrass, and downy brome.

A characteristic of this species of grasshopper is that the inside of the rear legs are red. Populations never tend to get high enough to do damage, so treatment is not necessary. If producers are seeing more than 10-15 per square foot, Kittelmann would like to know so that she can visit with them about possible control options.

Are these overwintering grasshoppers any indication of the size of grasshopper population this summer? No, says Kittelmann, the abundance of one species is not a good predictor of another, particularly since these grasshoppers are cold adapted. They actually may even occur as far north as Alaska.

For questions about grasshoppers, unidentified insects, or for more information contact the Fallon/Carter Extension Office; (406) 778-7110; or


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