Grasshoppers and Japanese Beetles: Feeding on Nebraska crops

Published: Jul. 5, 2017 at 12:29 PM CDT
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Farmers in Nebraska have to overcome several obstacles when it comes to their crops.

Weather is one of those—along with disease and infection, but another big issue growers face is insects.

Many insects like to feed on crops, and this year two particular insects are out in full force.

Experts say grasshoppers and Japanese beetles have been seen feeding on corn and soybeans.

Nebraska Extension Entomologist Robert Wright says grasshoppers are a problem every year; however, he says the mild winter may have led to an increase in grasshoppers this season.

“They lay their eggs in the fall in undisturbed areas and hatch out in field borders, roadside ditches and pastures,” said Wright. “Now is the time for growers to check their field borders.”

Wright says if farmers notice high numbers of grasshoppers outside of fields, it’s easier to control them when they are small.

A new problem for farmers is the Japanese beetle. Wright says these have been seen in cities like Lincoln and Omaha for several years, but they are now making their way to agricultural areas.

The beetles feed on corn leaves and silk.

“As the corn begins to silk, the Japanese beetle adult will feed on the silk,” said Wright. "If they're abundant enough, they can interfere with the pollination. That's something people should be watching for now.”

Both grasshoppers and Japanese beetle are leaf-eaters. If farmers see holes in the leaves of their crops, they may want to consider treating that area.

“Get a feeling of how many you have,” said Wright. “In the case of grasshoppers, if you do have to treat, it's better to treat when they are just on the field borders. You may have to spend less money and not have to treat the whole field.”

These aren’t the only two insects expected to cause problems for farmers this season. Wright says many other insects are emerging now. He says it’s a good idea for farmers to keep a close watch—especially this month.

“July is the time when we get a lot of insect activity. Check your fields. There may be some new insects out there.”

For more information on insects impacting crops this season, click