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Science and the Environment

Insects Cause Problems for Farmers

Farmers have been hit hard this year. First there was the ice storm, then the late freeze and now bugs. KSMU's Michele Skalicky reports.

Potato Leafhoppers are out in full force in SW MO this year, and that can mean trouble for farmers.

The potato leafhopper is a greenish-yellow, wedge-shaped insect about 1/8th inch in length. Tom Hanson, agronomy specialist with the University of Missouri Extension, says if their numbers get high enough, they can cause serious damage to alfalfa crops.

Hanson says farmers need to be checking for potato leafhoppers. If they find a significant number of them, they'll need to spray. Hanson says there are several products available to keep the insects in check. Farmers can call him at 862-9284 for a list of them.

Grasshoppers are also starting to become a problem in SW MO fields, and Hanson says, in large numbers, they can cause destruction, too.

Army worms have been a problem for farmers in SW MO this year, too. Hanson says most have already become moths, but he says the larva caused destruction to farmers' fields earlier.

Hanson says SW MO farmers have had a tough year so far. First there was the ice storm, which damaged fences, then the late freeze set crops back and forced farmers to go back to feeding hay to their cattle, and now they're dealing with bugs.

At least there's a positive side to the large numbers of grasshoppers--Hanson says if you like fishing for perch, grasshoppers make excellent bait.