The Differential Grasshopper (Orthoptera: Acrididae)-Its Impact on Turfgrass and Landscape Plants in Urban Environs

James A. Reinert, Wayne Mackay, M. C. Engelke, Steve W. George

Abstract


The differential grasshopper, Melanoplus differentialis (Thomas) (Orthoptera: Acrididae), frequently migrates from highway rights-of-way, pastures, and harvested fields to feed in urban/suburban landscapes and retail/wholesale nurseries across the southern and southwestern U.S.A., as these areas dry down during hot dry summers. Nine selected turfgrasses and 15 species of landscape plants were evaluated for their susceptibility or resistance to this grasshopper. Grasshoppers were collected from stands of Johnsongrass, Sorghum halepense, which was used as a standard host for comparison in both experiments. Based on feeding damage, number of grasshopper fecal pellets produced, and their dry weight, Zoysia matrella cv. 'Cavalier' was the least preferred grass followed by Buchloe dactyloides cv. 'Prairie' and Z. japonica cv. 'Meyer'. Festuca arundinacea was significantly the most preferred host and sustained the most feeding damage, followed by Poa pratensis × P. arachnifera cv. 'Reveille' and 2 Cynodon spp. cultivars, 'Tifway' and 'Common'. Among the landscape plants, Hibiscus moscheutos cv. 'Flare', Petunia violacea cv. 'VIP', Phlox paniculata cv. 'John Fanick', Tecoma stans cv. 'Gold Star', and Campsis grandiflora were the least damaged or most resistant. Plumbago auriculata cv. 'Hullabaloo', Glandularia hybrid cv. 'Blue Princess', Canna × generalis, Johnsongrass, and Cortaderia selloana cv. 'Pumila' sustained the most damage. Based on the number of fecal pellets produced and their weights, Canna × generalis and Glandularia hybrid cv. 'Blue Princess' were the most preferred landscape plants tested.

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