Wingless grasshoppers and their control

Page last updated: Thursday, 1 August 2019 - 10:52am

The wingless grasshopper (Phaulacridium vittatum) is a native insect widely distributed throughout the higher rainfall coastal areas of southern Australia. It is estimated to infest 20 000 square kilometres of pasture in the south-west of Western Australia.

Severe outbreaks were recorded as early as 1853 but it is only during the past 20 years that the insect has become a major pest of pastures, orchards, vineyards and vegetable gardens. More recently farmers and farmer organisations have cited damage to tree establishment programs as a major problem.

Description

The wingless grasshopper adult is 13-18mm long and has two forms, with or without a pair of white stripes on each side of the thorax (see Figure 1). Most adults have short, undeveloped wings but small numbers of the population can have functional wings and are capable of considerable wind-assisted flight.

Newly-emerged wingless grasshoppers are less than 2mm long and are a uniform dark grey (see Figure 6). The identification of these hatchlings is an important part of any control program and growers would be wise to ensure that they can recognise wingless grasshoppers at this stage of their development. There are two colour forms of the wingless grasshopper shown in the image below.

Two forms of wingless grasshopper
Figure 1. The two common forms of wingless grasshoppers

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Contact information

David Cousins
+61 (0)8 9368 3920