Grasshoppers may be cute when they're depicted in cartoons, but they're not so cute when you find them in your own garden or lawn. These distinctive insects with powerful hind legs and wings can quickly travel great distances, allowing them to make their way through your garden quickly as they feast on foliage, flowers, fruits and vegetables.
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As grasshoppers dine on your garden, they leave behind ragged chew holes in plant leaves. They can also leave behind distorted blooms after they munch on flower buds and they may even take bites out of your 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. Grasshopper populations tend to boom in years with 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 most 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.
If you're growing vegetables, you'll need to remove the fabric when flowers appear on your plants to allow pollinators to reach the flowers. Although some flowers are wind-pollinated, bees, butterflies, and other living creatures play a big part in pollinating most crops. If flowers are not pollinated, resulting in fertilization, no veggies or fruits can form.
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. Other sprays are made from plant materials that repel insects, such as neem oil from the neem tree. Observe all label directions and precautions when using any insecticide.
Call in Professional Pest Control Assistance
A pest control service can help you control a grasshopper infestation. Professionals will treat vegetation with an insecticide spray for grasshoppers. This eliminates adult grasshoppers and that helps stop the egg-laying cycle.