Grasshopper infestations can be a serious problem for gardeners. These insects feed on a wide range of plants and can quickly defoliate entire sections of a garden, leaving behind only bare stems and branches. They are also capable of transmitting plant diseases, which can make the problem even worse.
- Significant damage to leaves, including large holes and complete defoliation
- Eating of flowers and developing fruit, leading to reduced yields and plant stress
- Wilting and stunted growth of plants due to feeding damage and reduced photosynthesis
- Presence of grasshopper excrement, which is black and cylindrical in shape
- Chewed up or shredded plant material around feeding areas
- In some cases, yellowing and death of plants due to secondary infections from wounds caused by grasshopper feeding
What is a Grasshopper
- Size: Range from 1/2 inch to 2 1/2 inches in length
- Color: Typically green or brown to blend in with surrounding vegetation, but some species can have brightly colored stripes or patterns
- Shape: Oval-shaped, with a distinct thorax and abdomen
- Legs: Long, powerful hind legs for jumping and short front legs for crawling and climbing
- Antennae: Long and thin, often as long or longer than the body
- Wings: Transparent, membranous, and can be folded flat over the body when not in use
- Head: Short and wide, with large eyes and strong mandibles for chewing vegetation.
Treating a Grasshopper Infestation
It may be necessary to use multiple methods for effective grasshopper control, as no single method will provide complete control. For example, removing grasshoppers by hand, using physical barriers, and encouraging natural predators can reduce the overall grasshopper population. This can make chemical control more effective and reduce the need for large applications of insecticides.
- Hand Picking: Physically remove grasshoppers from plants and dispose of them in soapy water or in a sealed container. This method is effective for small gardens or isolated infestations.
- Traps: Use sticky or bait traps to capture grasshoppers. Sticky traps can be made from cardboard or paper coated with a sticky substance, such as petroleum jelly. Bait traps use a combination of grasshopper attractants and a sticky substance to trap grasshoppers.
- Barriers: Install physical barriers around susceptible plants to prevent grasshoppers from reaching them. This can be done using fine mesh netting, horticultural fabric, or other materials.
- Encourage Birds: Create a bird-friendly environment by providing birdhouses, birdbaths, and bird feeders. This will encourage birds to visit your garden and feed on grasshoppers.
- Introduce Beneficial Insects: Release ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps to feed on grasshoppers. These insects can reduce the grasshopper population and help maintain balance in the garden ecosystem.
- Insecticides: Use insecticides specifically labeled for grasshopper control, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Insecticides can be applied as a spray or dust and will kill grasshoppers on contact.
- Plant-derived Products: Use botanical insecticides derived from plants such as neem oil or pyrethrin. These products are considered safe for use in the garden and are less toxic than synthetic insecticides.