How To Get Rid of Grasshoppers
Having grasshoppers in your garden is probably the last thing you would want to deal with right now. These insects are destructive and will feed on not only your crops but will also destroy the garden bed you have put so much effort in.
Grasshoppers are quite a pest to farmers. With a large infestation of these insects, farmers are sure to lose their harvest. This can however be prevented by getting rid of grasshoppers. The question is “how?”
If you own a garden, you would most likely find this article handy. There are several natural ways you can employ to get rid of grasshoppers that will not damage your crops. So we will be suggesting effective remedies for grasshopper infestation. But first, you need to know what grasshoppers are, what they feed on, and what attracts them.
What are grasshoppers?
Grasshoppers are plant-eating insects from the suborder Caelifera, a group of insects called Orthoptera. They are known as the most ancient group of herbivorous insects. They dwell mostly on the ground and are attracted to grass.
There are over 10000 species of grasshoppers and they can be found anywhere in the world except Antarctica. One common species are the short-horned grasshoppers. They possess short antennas and large hind legs that make them hop.
They are also known for their sharp mandibles used for chewing and grinding food. Some species of grasshoppers change color and behavior due to weather conditions. When this happens, they are referred to as locusts.
What attracts grasshoppers?
From the name grasshoppers, you can tell that these insects are attracted to grass. They would hop on grass if they are in your garden, feed on them, and in the process feed on your crops. Like other insects, grasshoppers need food, and shelter to survive. They are drawn to a dry, open environment and your garden or farm might just be what they need.
What grasshoppers feed on
Unlike other garden insects, grasshoppers do not have selected plants they feed on. In fact, they are not picky eaters, they feed on almost all parts of plants. They feed on grass, stems, leaves, veggies, greens, flowers, and seeds. Just about any attractive plant available in your garden. They also feed on wheat, corn, cotton, rye, oats, and barley. Sometimes, when there is a scarcity of greens, these insects may forage fungi, animal dung, rotting meat, and dead insects to get protein.
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How to get rid of grasshoppers
Grasshoppers eat 50% of their weight every day. Whether they are adults or nymphs, they’ll feed on those lush greens in your farms. Ignoring them is not the best idea because these insects won’t leave until your crops are destroyed. The following methods are effective for getting rid of them.
- Provide an unattractive environment
Though grasshoppers do not select plants, certain flowers repel them. What you can do is, plant these unattractive flowers alongside your crops. With this, grasshoppers would hardly infest your garden, nor will they come near your crops.
Flowers that keep them away include; lilac, moss rose, sage, juniper, dianthus, jasmine, forsythia, and salvia. You can also plant veggies that grasshoppers would hardly eat in your garden. Some of these veggies you can plant are; peas, squash, and tomatoes. This way, grasshoppers will not be attracted to your garden.
- Make an attractive habitat away from your garden
You can provide an attractive habitat for grasshoppers away from your garden. If you have enough land space for this, all you have to do is plant grasses and weeds on land away from your garden.
Since grasshoppers are first attracted to grass and live in such an environment, they would most definitely feed on the grass. Once you do this, ensure you weed your garden regularly so as not to attract them to it. With this method, you can easily control them and eliminate them by setting a trap using pesticides or other grasshopper eliminators.
- Use natural predators
This method is a long-term method that is quite effective. There are natural grasshopper predators that will not hesitate to feed on these insects. What you have to do is either attract these predators or plant them yourself.
Common grasshopper predators include certain species of birds, like swallows. You can set up a birdbath, bird feeder, or nest to attract them to your garden. Once they are in, they’ll handle the grasshoppers for you. Other grasshopper predators are praying mantis.
You may also have to be careful because some of these predators feed on certain plants and plant products as well.
- Protect your plants with physical barriers
One thing about grasshoppers, when they notice physical barriers around their food source, they would not bother to infest. This is because they run away from perceived threats. You could use an aluminum window screen or fabric to protect your plants. You can also try Toss polyester bird netting. Chicken wire is also a recommended fit.
To achieve this, simply make garden beds and confine your crops so you can easily fence round and cover the top with netting and row covers respectively.
- Try soil care
If you study the life cycle of grasshoppers, you would notice that they hardly survive the winter season. So if there already is an infestation of grasshoppers that you may have gotten rid of, there is a probability that these insects have begun laying eggs. Grasshopper eggs usually hatch in spring. But are usually dormant before then.
Rototilling soil care will help you prevent grasshopper eggs from developing. It exposes and destroys the egg pods, disrupting their lifecycle. Grasshoppers lay eggs in late summer. The eggs are dormant in winter and hatch in spring.
You can rototill your soil in early spring to prevent these eggs from hatching. See how to rototill soil.
- Train chicken or Guinea fowl
Rearing chickens and guinea fowls is another way to get rid of grasshoppers. These animals feed on hopping insects like grasshoppers so they would help you get rid of them when they invade your garden. If you have the resources you train these animals, you can try out this method.
Natural remedies to get rid of grasshoppers.
If you are looking for organic or natural remedies that would have no negative impact on your crops and would be less stressful, then you should consider these options.
- Garlic spray
The smell of garlic repels grasshoppers. They do not like the smell, nor do they like the taste. So when you spray this on your plants, grasshoppers would be forced to stay away. You can either purchase a garlic spray or make your homemade garlic spray.
- Neem oil
This organic solution is quite popular. It is used as a pesticide and a fungicide so it is a must-have when battling with grasshoppers. Most farmers or garden owners can attest to the usefulness of Neem oil.
Apart from repelling grasshoppers, Neem oil inhibits the eggs and destroys them. It also retards the growth of grasshopper egg nymphs. It is quite efficient and helps prevent another infestation in spring.
- Hot Pepper Wax
Hot pepper wax is another effective repellent for grasshoppers. It contains a high concentration of cayenne pepper that is repelling to them. The hot pepper wax has a disgusting flavor that grasshoppers would not want to be near. Apply a considerable quantity around your garden and on plants that are prone to be attacked by grasshoppers.
- Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a good way to get rid of grasshoppers. It is known for its effectiveness in getting rid of pests at home and in gardens. When diatomaceous earth touches pests, particularly grasshoppers, it dehydrates them, drying up any liquid in them. This dehydration leads to their death. You can pour it on your plants, particularly grasshopper-infested areas. You can also mix it with water and spray it on your plants.
Dust leaves with flour
Flour can be used to get rid of grasshoppers as well. What it does is gum their mouths and prevent them from feeding. Grasshoppers depend on plants for survival. If they are unable to eat, they will starve to death. Use ordinary all-purpose flour, sprinkle a notable amount on affected plants.
Prevent grasshoppers from infesting your plants
With prevention, you may not have to deal with a heavy infestation of grasshoppers. To prevent grasshoppers from eating plants in your garden, first, you must till the ground. After this, proceed to take out weeds growing in your garden as well as areas where you do not have plants.
Then, protect vulnerable crops by covering them with cheesecloth or cover crops.
TO ensure grasshoppers don’t invade again, you can train chicken or attract natural grasshopper-eating insects to keep these insects at bay.
Though grasshoppers may be important to the soil where they inhabit, however, they can destroy your plant produce. Be sure to get rid of them to prevent losing your lush greens or worse, your harvest. The above-mentioned methods are effective. Just try the ones best suited for your situation.