Grasshoppers in December

With tattered wings and a broken hind leg, this differential grasshopper was still alive on December 8. On this date I found two grasshoppers in my yard north of Ames. They had survived several hard frosts in October and then continued to beat the odds through a relatively mild November. Maybe this should come as no surprise because 2001 was a very unusual insect year in Iowa, with a variety of pest problems rarely experienced.

The presence of grasshoppers in December suggests that our pest insects that overwinter in Iowa, such as corn rootworms, alfalfa weevils, and soybean aphids, are experiencing environmental conditions that support a higher than normal survival rate so far this winter. This extended survival could mean more problems from these insects next spring. However, they still have January, February, and March with which to contend so the conditions could change. As of today, the winter has favored the insects.

Old Grasshopper

This article originally appeared on page 205 of the IC-486(25) -- December 24, 2001 issue.

Updated 12/23/2001 - 1:00pm