Grasshoppers may be cute when they're depicted in cartoons, but they're not so welcome in your garden or lawn. These distinctive insects with powerful hind legs and wings can quickly travel great distances in the landscape. This allows them to make their way through your garden eating foliage, flowers, fruits and vegetables.
The grasshopper's speed makes it difficult to catch and remove. As the insect dines on your garden, grasshoppers leave behind ragged chew holes in plant leaves. They may also munch on flower buds, leading to distorted blooms. And they may take bites out of fruits and vegetables.
Several methods exist for safely and effectively repelling grasshoppers. These include introducing predators to the garden, tilling the soil in autumn and weeding the garden, using barriers, natural sprays and insecticides, and bringing in professional help when necessary.
You'll see grasshoppers in shades of brown, green and gold. Although grasshoppers are present every year, their numbers vary, depending on environmental conditions. Weather that leads to high populations of grasshoppers features warm, extended autumns followed by dry, warm spring seasons. These years tend to bring more grasshoppers, because their eggs overwinter in the soil. The milder the weather, the more likely the eggs are to survive and hatch into grasshoppers. Grasshopper adults tend to be active from June through September. If the weather is mild, they may stay active longer.
Manage Grasshoppers with Predators
Grasshoppers make good food for other animals. These include chickens and ducks, which like to eat them, as well as cats. Let such animals roam in the garden, and they'll help cut down substantially on the grasshopper population.
Till and Weed Your Garden in the Autumn
Grasshoppers lay their eggs in the soil in the fall, and they prefer laying them in undisturbed, weedy areas. That means that if you till and weed the garden in the fall, you'll discourage the females from laying eggs in the tilled, weeded areas. This can help decrease the grasshopper population.
Use Physical Barriers
Keeping the grasshoppers from jumping onto your plants in the first place will help prevent them from damaging your crops. You can do this by covering crops with a row cover. This is a lightweight fabric that allows for sunlight, moisture and air to enter but keeps out pests.
Try Natural Sprays
Some sprays can repel grasshoppers. For safety reasons, it's a good idea to start with the mildest sprays, such as those made from items like hot pepper wax spray. Other sprays are made from plant materials that repel insects, such as neem oil from the neem tree.
Call in Professional Pest Control Assistance
A pest control operator can help you control a grasshopper infestation. Such an individual will treat vegetation with an insecticide spray for grasshoppers. This eliminates adult grasshoppers and that helps stop the egg-laying cycle.
Julie Bawden-Davis is a widely published writer specializing in personal finance and business. Since 1985, her work has appeared in many publications, including American Express OPEN Forum, Forbes.com, The Los Angeles Times, SuperMoney.com, Entrepreneur, Debt Help.com, Mint.com and Credit Sesame.com. She has a degree in journalism from California State University, Long Beach and worked professionally as a bookkeeper for a large drugstore retail chain for several years.