As a gardener, you know the importance of protecting your plants from pests such as grasshoppers and other insects. The last thing you would want is to spend time and effort taking care of an amazing garden full of veggies and have it attacked by these relentless bugs.
When these little trouble makers inhabit your garden, it is different from other pests in that they can eat just about anything. They don't focus on one particular plant as other pests do. Instead, they are able to eat through almost anything you've spent the season growing.
Chemicals can harm your family and the ecosystem of your garden. Instead of using dangerous substances, there are organic solutions to deal with an invasion of grasshoppers. You'll be able to control the population and prevent your precious plants from being eaten.
As a responsible gardener, it is essential to choose the type of pest control solutions that only come from nature.
We will cover different natural ways in which you can prevent, control, and eliminate grasshoppers from your garden. Even if these bugs have already invaded your crops, you'll be able to find organic ways to take care of this common gardening problem.
Let's hop right to it!
More About the Grasshopper
An infestation of grasshoppers can destroy your garden season after season. They are hungry insects that consume approximately 50% of their weight each day. They will chew on the stems and leaves of plants around your garden throughout their whole life cycle.
If the infestation is left untreated, the damage can become severe, ending up with your entire garden without leaves, no longer able to grow and produce a crop. According to recent figures, grasshoppers have been found to eat 1/4th of all of America's available plant material found in the western states.
Adult grasshoppers are about one to two inches in length and their color is usually brown to reddish yellow or green. They have prominent jaws, carry fully developed wings, and have short antennae.
These insects have enlarged hind legs that allow them to jump great distances with ease. A classic study indicated that 6-7 adult grasshoppers per square yard on 10 acres of grass can eat as much as one adult cow. They can cover a lot of territory in a short amount of time, considering their size.
You'll find relief knowing that not all grasshopper species destroy your garden. The ones that do have a similar developmental cycle, which makes it easier for gardeners. Learning about how the life cycle of a grasshopper is the first step to eliminate them from your garden before all your hard work is chewed away.
What Do Grasshoppers Eat?
Most grasshoppers eat broadleaf plants or grasses. The type of grasshoppers that are considered to be pests eat a large variety of plants. Adult grasshoppers have wings and can easily move around the garden to find other food sources when they deplete one area.
Before being fully grown grasshoppers they are nymphs. The nymphs congregate near where they hatch and will remain there until the food runs out. Gardens provide moisture and optimal plant growing conditions for hungry grasshoppers to thrive. They have all they need without having to spend much energy to find nourishment. It is an ideal environment for them to reproduce.
How to Eliminate Grasshoppers Organically
Taking the time to research organic methods to take care of your garden pays off handsomely. Instead of using chemicals that harm the delicate ecosystem that surrounds your property and killing off helpful species, the following organic methods will help you deal with a grasshopper infestation with ease.
To add preventive measures that work to protect your garden, consider using the following organic grasshopper baits and sprays. Many of these solutions can be homemade, and others can be easily purchased from garden stores and online merchants.
Garlic has many applications, it's no wonder it is also used to prevent a grasshopper infestation. These insects cannot stand the smell or taste of garlic and will stay far away from any plant that has a coat of garlic spray. Grasshoppers will certainly lose their appetite once they smell and taste this pungent compound.
Using a pressurized spray bottle, you may spray over a wide area of your garden. A solution with a high concentration of garlic works best. You may find various recipes online and make your own at home. Most people just buy a commercial garlic spray instead of going through the trouble of making it themselves.
Neem oil is a great natural pesticide as well as a fungicide. It is very popular to control a grasshopper infestation in your garden. Not only does neem oil repel grasshoppers from your garden, but it also prevents the egg-laying process from happening.
In addition to repelling grasshoppers and preventing new eggs from forming, this organic method also retards their growth and inhibits them from feeding. Because neem oil works in several ways, it is one of the best methods for keeping grasshoppers from returning to your garden in the spring.
Neem oil may sometimes have a strong unpleasant odor. Try a small amount before using it to make sure it is not going to disrupt your environment.
Hot Pepper Wax
This highly concentrated spray made from cayenne pepper can be applied to the leaves of your plants, especially the ones that are more likely to be eaten by grasshoppers. The spray creates a flavor on the plants that deters the insects from eating them.
Along with grasshoppers, you'll also be able to keep other pests away with hot pepper wax.
A novel solution to uninvited grasshoppers is kaolin clay. It comes it powder form that you can mix with soap and water to create a spray you can apply on leaves. The solution results in a film that repels grasshoppers and prevents them from feeding.
Some people like to use other methods besides kaolin clay because it changes the appearance of their garden. Nonetheless, it is still a popular method because of its effectiveness to prevent insects from even coming.
Another drawback to using this method is that you'll have to wash your greens and harvests very well to get the coating of kaolin clay off before consumption. This option is still a very good one considering its effectiveness.
Diatomaceous earth is made from shells of fossilized algae. It has become a very popular garden additive to help people achieve various goals, most notably to prevent grasshoppers and other pests from targeting your plants.
The spray effectively kills grasshoppers by dehydrating their body, which occurs easily as they are soft-bodied insects. It is important to protect yourself when using this substance by covering your eyes and mouth. If it is inhaled, it can cause an undesired reaction.
Use the solution by dusting it on crops or where you suspect there is a grasshopper infestation. You may also mix it with water to create a spray you can apply to the leaves. After it is applied, the water in the solution evaporates and a protective film of diatomaceous earth is left behind to do the work.
Many store-bought brands now feature a line of organic pesticidal soaps that easily get rid of grasshoppers. The fatty acids in the soaps dissolve the grasshopper immediately after contact. These products dehydrate the body of the grasshopper, causing a quick death soon after.
Pesticidal soaps are meant to be used for very serious cases where other options have failed. It is important that you read and follow the product instructions carefully to avoid killing your plants.
Nolo bait is meant to be used right after the grasshopper eggs have hatched and they become nymphs. You have to time the application of this product correctly in order for it to work. Apply this nolo bait when the insects are approximately 0.25″ long.
The blood of grasshoppers is poisoned when they ingest this substance, causing death. The infected grasshoppers will be eaten by the other insects that remain, which means they will eventually die too from the poison.
It only takes one infected grasshopper to spread the disease over the course of multiple life cycles. To use it, spread the substance over a large area of your garden to ensure it penetrates enough grasshoppers. The infected insects will contact other insects spreading the disease all over your garden while keeping your plants intact. Over time, it will surely completely wipe them out.
Although flour dust is an unconventional and unstudied method for grasshopper control, some gardeners swear by it. They simply apply a coat of flour dust all over their garden to diminish the grasshopper population. It is such an easy solution that it is worth a try!
Types Of Sage
Other Methods For Controlling Grasshoppers
Besides using organic substances to directly target grasshoppers, there are other methods gardeners use to prevent pests from creating a problem.
Environmental Grasshopper Control
Fill your garden with items that will prevent a grasshopper infestation. The solutions below work wonders and enhance any garden.
Plant These Flowers
Instead of battling against grasshoppers, why not create a garden that doesn't attract them in the first place? One way to achieve this is by choosing plants that are unattractive to grasshoppers. Mix them into the layout of your garden so that grasshoppers are turned off and don't reach other plants they like.
Here are some examples of flowers you can plant to prevent grasshoppers from staying in your garden. They will enhance your garden while providing the important function of keeping this type of pest away.
These flowers include:
Plant These Vegetables
Another way to keep grasshoppers away is by planting vegetables that turn them off. Peas, tomatoes, and squash are all great choices. Fortunately, these are the types of veggies that are welcomed in every kitchen.
Planning your harvest consciously will allow you to enjoy a variety of food while using the plant species to do all the work of keeping grasshoppers away. This is an easy method that doesn't cause more work or is burdensome at all.
Plant Tall Grass Around the Outskirts of Your Property
The perfect place for a grasshopper to hide and eat is in tall grass, they absolutely love it! Providing an ideal habitat for grasshoppers will prevent them from entering your garden. Plus, the tall grass acts as a hedge that physically prevents them from migrating to areas that are off-limits such as your crops.
As long as you keep your garden free from weeds, the grasshoppers will settle into the tall grass instead of your precious plants. The grass can be planted as the summer comes to a close.
Utilize Floating Row Covers
A great way to protect your garden is by using a fabric barrier or floating row cover. This will prevent grasshoppers from entering and making hatching nests. You can simply pull the fabric over the area you want to protect and secure it with hoops and stakes.
Strategically place the cover so that it creates a barrier without touching your plants. Keep the fabric at a distance from all leaves so that grasshoppers are not able to reach through the fabric.
Rototill to the Spring Time
Consider the life cycle of grasshoppers, which lay eggs in late summer that lay dormant over winter and hatch in the spring. By roto-tilling the soil in early spring, you'll be able to destroy the egg pods and cause a major disruption in the life cycle of grasshoppers.
Encouraging Beneficial Animals
If you have space on your property to have animals, then you'll also be able to use them for pest control. There are two types of animals that love to eat grasshoppers.
These natural grasshopper predators are:
Guinea Hens and Chickens
Guinea hens, chickens, and even ducks all like to eat grasshoppers. These bird species are omnivores contrary to the popular belief that they are herbivores. By inviting these types of animals into your garden, not only will you enjoy fresh eggs, but you will also keep grasshoppers under control.
An important consideration is that these birds may also eat your garden when not hunting grasshoppers. Pen them off well to prevent them from eating more than you would like them to. You certainly don't want the birds to eat your precious crops.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Grasshoppers
Although eggs hatch over an extended period of time, grasshoppers live only one generation each year. Their development from an egg to an adult takes approximately one and a half to two months.
Different species of grasshoppers hatch at various times, which means that small ones can be found from the beginning to the end of the growing season. You can expect grasshoppers to stick around until late autumn. That's around the time that adults naturally die or are killed off by winter frost.
Weed control is one of the best preventative measures against a grasshopper takeover. The lack of weeds in your garden starves the young and prevents adults from laying eggs in that particular area.
By making sure your garden stays free from weeds will make grasshoppers very unhappy and with the need to find other habitats. It is in undisturbed soil that grasshoppers lay their eggs. You'll find these areas to be places such as road banks, fence rows, and fallow fields.
Tilling the soil at a shallow level in the late summer can serve to prevent eggs from being laid. It is another preventative measure you can use in addition to the organic solutions that are applied to the plants.
You may see that your grasshopper infestation gets worse as the years pass. This is probably due to consecutive years of dry and hot summers followed by dry autumns. It makes a perfect environment for grasshoppers to thrive and reproduce.
Eggs that are left in the soil during the fall will hatch in the spring. Dry spring weather provides a better chance for survival as the hatched eggs won't drown and wash away with heavy spring rain.
Some people think that grasshoppers and locusts are the same. In fact, all locusts are considered to be grasshoppers, but not all grasshoppers are technically locusts.
Be sure to know the species of grasshopper that inhabits your garden to find the most effective method to eliminate them.