Migratory behaviour in insects correlates with reproductive development in females, and migration often occurs during the pre-reproductive stage of adults. The relationship between ovarian development and population status of the white-backed planthopper Sogatella furcifera (Horváth) and the brown planthopper Nilaparvata lugens (Stål) was evaluated. Females of both species were captured in rice fields and light traps and then dissected in double-season rice-farming regions of southern China. The ovarian development of S. furcifera and N. lugens was divided into five levels, following previous studies. The population statuses of both species were examined based on the ovarian development of female adults caught in rice paddies. The ovarian development in N. lugens females caught in light traps mostly ranged from level I to level II, whereas that in S. furcifera females caught in light traps mostly ranged from level I to level III. During peak immigration, ovarian development in N. lugens females was mainly at level II, whereas that in S. furcifera females was mainly at level II and sporadically at level III. During peak emigration, both S. furcifera and N. lugens showed level I ovarian development. The temporal dynamics of ovarian development in light trap catches revealed that (i) significant emigration and partial immigration periods occur in S. furcifera, with ovarian development mainly at level I and sporadically from level II to level III and (ii) numerous immigrants of N. lugens were detected during sedentary and local breeding periods. The temporal dynamics of ovarian development provides more information than does the paddy population. Thus, this study proposes another method for pest forecasting, which is more precise and efficient than conventional forecasting methods such as light trap catching and monitoring population dynamics in rice fields.