How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers: Natural Grasshopper Control
- How to Get R > Published August 25, 2016 and updated March 2, 2019
- Overview of the Grasshopper
- Life Cycle of Grasshoppers
- Common Habitats for Grasshoppers
- What Do Grasshoppers Eat?
- How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers
- Environmental Grasshopper Control
- Organic Grasshopper Control
- Beneficial Animals
- Grasshopper FAQ
- How many grasshoppers does it take to kill a human being?
- Answer Wiki
- ‘If you injure an insect, should you kill it or let it live?’
- We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.
- 14 “Harmless” Bugs You D >
- Even the sweetest bugs can bite if provoked. Here are a few insects you wouldn’t suspect.
- Praying mantis
- Sp > Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock
How to Get R > Published August 25, 2016 and updated March 2, 2019
There’s nothing worse…
You’ve cultivated an amazing garden, full of lush greens and veggies, only to have it relentlessly attacked by grasshoppers. Unlike many garden pests, which focus on one type of plant, grasshoppers aren’t too picky and can obliterate most of the plants you’ve spent all season growing.
In this guide, you’ll learn many different ways to prevent, control, and kill grasshoppers, even if they’ve already infested your garden.
Best Organic Grasshopper Control Products
Overview of the Grasshopper
Grasshoppers can decimate your garden. They eat around 50% of their weight every single day. No matter where they are in their life cycle, they’ll chew away at both the stems and leaves of plants in your garden. If left unchecked, this damage can become severe, leaving your entire garden without leaves, unable to grow.
Adults (1-2 inch long) are brown to reddish yellow or green in color with prominent jaws, fully developed wings, and short antennae. They have enlarged hind legs and can jump great distances. Immature stages, or nymphs, are similar in appearance to adults, but are smaller and have wing buds instead of wings.
Note: Ten adults per square yard are economically damaging to rangeland, according to the USDA. Smaller numbers can damage cropland or gardens, depending on crop type and age. A classic study showed that 6-7 adults per square yard on 10 acres of pasture ate as much as a cow.
Life Cycle of Grasshoppers
Not all grasshopper species are bad for your garden, but the ones that are all have a similar developmental cycle. Learning how their life cycle works is step one to killing grasshoppers before they can destroy your garden.
Grasshoppers lay their eggs at the end of the summer, buried in the soil in pods. These eggs lay in the soil through the winter, going into diapause, and hatch in early spring.
As soon as they hatch, grasshopper nymphs immediately start to consume plant matter in the area where they hatch. As they grow, they begin to exhaust the food supply and start to move to new areas.
It takes about 1.5-2 months for grasshoppers to reach adult stage. But once they do, they just continue to munch on the plants in your garden until they’re killed by winter.
Common Habitats for Grasshoppers
Grasshoppers are found all around the world — in fact, the only continent that isn’t plagued by them is Antarctica. While you can find them in many different types of landscapes, they prefer warm, dry climates and areas with low-lying grasses and plants. This means you’re likely to find them in fields, deserts, meadows, grasslands, and mountains. And your garden, of course.
What Do Grasshoppers Eat?
Grasshoppers eat plants, but most specialize on grasses or broadleaf plants. Pest species, on the other hand, feed on a wide variety of plants and will readily switch from grasses to broadleaves. As nymphs, grasshoppers tend to congregate and remain near their hatching areas. They will remain there as long as there is an adequate supply of food and shelter.When food runs out they will move. Immature grasshoppers can’t move very far, because they don’t have wings, but winged adults can fly for miles in search of new food sources
Hungry grasshoppers like gardens because they have optimal moisture and excellent plant growing conditions. That gives them an abundant food supply that they don’t have to spend much energy to get to.
How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers
While there are many different methods to get rid of grasshoppers, they can all be grouped into three different categories:
- Organic Applications
- Animal Control
It might be tempting to just pick one method out of the list you’ll find below, but you will have better results by mixing a few different methods to form an integrated approach to grasshopper control.
This way, if one method isn’t 100% effective, the other techniques can pick up the rest.
Let’s get into it!
Environmental Grasshopper Control
The first line of defense against grasshoppers is to either create an unattractive garden environment for them, or to create an attractive environment away from your garden.
Flowers to Plant
One of the first things you can do is plant flowers that grasshoppers do not like. Mixing these into your garden layout will keep grasshoppers away from plants that you don’t want them to munch on:
- Crepe myrtle
- Moss rose
Vegetables to Grow
Even better, try planting veggies that grasshoppers don’t like to eat! There are a few that I have used in my garden and they have worked very well: squash, tomatoes, and peas.
Thankfully, these aren’t ‘weird’ veggies that I don’t have a use for besides repelling grasshoppers. I eat squash, peas, and tomatoes ALL of the time, so planting even more to repel those pesky bugs isn’t a burden on my garden!
Add Tall Grass to the Outskirts of Your Land
If given the choice, grasshoppers prefer to feast and hide in tall grass. If you have the space, add grass around your garden as the summer draws to a close. You can use it as a hedge against any grasshoppers, providing them a better habitat than your precious garden.
As long as you are weeding your garden effectively, the grasshoppers should settle in the grass and not your garden.
Use Floating Row Covers
- TWO ways to use – for seed germination and frost protection
- Traps heat and moisture to speed seed germination and plant.
- Traps heat to insulate plants from harsh frost and wind
- Reusable season after season
- Easy to use – “floats” over crops without support
If you don’t have grasshoppers in your garden and want it to stay that way, using a floating row cover or a fabric barrier is a great way to protect your plants. The fabric should be held up with hoops, although stakes will work decently.
Whatever you do, make sure that plants are not touching your floating row cover, because grasshoppers can still attack them from the outside of the fabric.
Harvest-Guard has 5×50′ and a 5×25′ row cover fabric that is well-reviewed and will get the job done if you decide to use this technique.
Rototill in Spring
You can take advantage of the grasshopper’s life cycle by roto-tilling your land in early spring. We know that they lay eggs in late summer, the eggs are dormant over winter, and hatch in spring. This means that an early spring rototill can destroy the egg pods and disrupt the life cycle of this pesky green hopper.
Organic Grasshopper Control
If you want to add another grasshopper prevention tool to your garden, consider organic grasshopper sprays and baits. Some of the following can be homemade and others must be purchased from your garden store or online.
Garlic spray has been shown to deal with grasshoppers pretty well. They really don’t like the smell or taste of garlic, so coating your plants in garlic spray is a great way to prevent them from a grasshopper’s hungry appetite.
Use a highly concentrated version so you can dilute it and spray it over a large area with a pressurized spray bottle. While you can make your own garlic spray, there are fantastic commercial garlic sprays available on Amazon that I use in my own garden instead of making it myself.
Hot Pepper Wax
- Finally there is a natural insecticide that really works on.
- Repels up to three weeks
- Normal rains or irrigation cannot wash it off
- Protects against insects including aphids, whiteflies.
Hot pepper wax spray is another application that works by being a disgusting flavor for soft-bodied insects like grasshoppers. They just can’t stand the taste of the cayenne pepper, which is the main ingredient in this concentrated spray. Applying it to the leaves of your garden, especially on the plants more prone to grasshopper attack, should go a long way to repelling grasshoppers.
Neem oil is a popular organic application that’s used as a fungicide as well as a pesticide. Some gardeners have success with neem oil for grasshopper control, while others report that they prefer using other methods. Either way, it has been shown to both repel grasshoppers and inhibit their egg-laying process. That disrupts their life-cycle and ideally means you won’t have to deal with them in the coming spring.
Neem oil from the Neem tree in Australia can be used as a repellent. It works in several different ways. It is a repellent, a feeding inhibitor, deters egg-laying, and retards growth.
- Safe to use around humans, plants, and animals
- Most effective grasshopper/cricket bait
- %100 Organic
- Fast results
Nolo bait is a product that takes advantage of a disease that affects most species of grasshoppers, Nosema Locustae. This is a single-cell organism that will infect and destroy grasshoppers in every stage of their developmental cycle. While they do affect some other types of crickets, the cross-species damage is low.
When using nolo bait, you have to time your application correctly. If you don’t get to the grasshoppers after they have hatched and are nymphs, the effectiveness of the treatment will be diminished.
When they are about 0.25″ long, apply the nolo bait. Grasshoppers that consume this will have their blood poisoned, causing death. Here’s where it gets interesting: the remaining grasshoppers will eat the dead ones, causing them to be infected as well.
This infection mechanism means that nolo bait can attack grasshopper infestations over the course of multiple life cycles, because all it takes is 1 infected hopper to keep the disease spreading. Use it over large areas to be sure that you are infecting enough grasshoppers for the disease to wipe them out completely.
- Useful on normal, dry and sensitive skin
- Common Uses: Soap. Face & Body Masks. Bath Fizzies.
- Cosmetic Grade.
- Country of Origin: United States
Kaolin clay is a newer type of grasshopper prevention that may be useful to you. It’s a powdered clay that is mixed with water and soap and then sprayed onto the leaf surfaces in your garden. This causes a film to coat the leaf surface, repelling grasshoppers.
Many people find kaolin clay to be unsavory because it makes their garden look uglier, but some people love the prevention measures. Another thing to consider is that you’ll have to wash your greens and harvests more thoroughly if you are using kaolin clay because it is a leaf coating.
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- The only official supplement – we are the only producers of.
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- Nature’s most diverse product – diatomaceous earth is an.
- Wholly produced in the USA – our entire process from mining.
Diatomaceous earth is a popular garden additive for many different reasons, but most notably because of how it affects pests that you don’t want in the garden. It’s made up of the shells of fossilized algae. When it comes in contact with a soft-bodied insect like a grasshopper, it effectively dehydrates their body, causing them to die.
If you are going to use this product, be sure to have eye and mouth protection as you don’t want to inhale this or get it in your eyes at all. You can either dust it on crops or in grasshopper-infested areas, or mix it with water and use a sprayer to apply it. It will become effective again once the water evaporates, leaving a film of diatomaceous earth on your plants.
You can purchase organic pesticidal soaps that can destroy grasshoppers with ease. They contain fatty acids that dissolve the body of the grasshopper immediately upon contact. This causes them to lose water, dehydrating them. Death follows shortly. You must be careful when using these products though and make sure that they won’t have the same effect on your plants! The last thing you want to do is spray for grasshopper control and end up killing your plants as well.
Some gardeners have gone truly home-made and reported that applying flour dust to their garden has an effect on grasshopper populations, though this is the least well researched option of every one I have listed so far. If you have any experience with this technique, please let me know in the comments!
If you have the luxury of having animals in the garden, you can use them as insect control as well! Here are two types of animals that are natural predators to grasshoppers.
Chickens and Guinea Hens
Chickens, guinea hens, and even ducks absolutely love munching on grasshoppers. Contrary to what the grocery stores would have you believe, chickens love to eat bugs and are omnivores, not herbivores.
So, adding some of these birds to the garden is a great way to get fresh eggs with a balanced nutrient profile as well as control your bug problem! The only issue is that chickens can also attack your garden if you’re not careful, so be sure to pen them off when they’re not on the hunt for bugs!
Wild birds also enjoy munching on a hopper from time to time. In the summer, see if you can encourage these birds to frequent your garden in search of grasshoppers. The best way to do this is to add posts, trellises, and other vertical structures for them to sit on while they survey the garden.
Q. What is the difference between grasshoppers and locusts?
A. Many gardeners think that grasshoppers and locusts are the exact same bug. All locusts are grasshoppers, but not all grasshoppers are locusts. It’s kind of like how all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.
Q. So what differentiates a locust from a grasshopper, then?
A. The biggest difference is in their behavior patterns. Locusts fly and swarm together when there are a lot of them in the same place, while grasshoppers do not exhibit this swarming behavior.
Q. Grasshoppers are destroying my strawberries! Help!?
A. If these green hoppers are munching on your strawberries, make sure to use safe methods for control, especially if you are spraying. Remember, you’re eating the berries!
Many commercial strawberry farmers have good results with either the garlic spray or hot pepper wax spray that i mentioned above. While it’s true that grasshoppers won’t actually eat the berries, they can decimate the leaves, which will severely inhibit the yield of your strawberry plants.
How many grasshoppers does it take to kill a human being?
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…then zero, because that is obviously photoshopped. [The hopper is sharper than the rest of the image and casts no shadow. Also, it’s too damn big.]
How exactly would a grasshopper kill a human? Let us count the ways…
Crushing? I don’t think you’d have a big enough pile to crush a human, without crushing the grasshoppers at the bottom of the pile first. If you are covered in a massive pile of hoppers, though, you might suffocate.
Eating? Despite their name, grasshoppers can and do eat meat… but they don’t hunt mammals. If a grasshopper bit you, it’s probably because you picked it up and harassed it, in which case you deserved it. Hoppers might eat roadkill, but would never kill a human to consume them. A swarm of locusts is not a school of piranha… unless you are a plant, in which case it’s worse. On that note…
Competing for food? Yes, a large swarm of locusts (which can number in the millions to trillions) will wreak havoc on farmland, destroying crops and leaving devastation and starvation in their wake. It’s terrible… but there’s an upside. The locusts themselves are edible, so while your crop is ruined you will at least not starve for a week or so.
Poisoning? You can eat locusts, but like all food they can go bad at times, so make sure you cook it or eat it before it rots. Also, chew before you swallow, or you might choke to death on a piece of exoskeleton. Speaking of poisoning, recall the Book of Exodus and the story of the 10 plagues of Egypt. One theory for the last plague, death of the firstborn, is that the 7th plague, locusts, covered Egyptian fields with locust dung, which was moistened by the 8th plague of hail and fermented in the 9th plague of darkness. The grain became contaminated with some sort of pathogen, making it deadly when the limited supplies of bread made from this grain were given to the most important members of ancient Egyptian families… the firstborn.
In summary, grasshoppers pose no threat to human lives, however the swarms of locusts are a threat to human livelihood, and people are working on finding solutions to that problem.
‘If you injure an insect, should you kill it or let it live?’
In my eyes, this is more about having compassion for all creatures. If the injury is serious enough to prevent the insect from normal activity, then I’d kill it to put it out of its misery.
Such questions always challenge human morality, which I would argue is relative and subjective. Witness the lion ripping apart the antelope. We, as if by reflex, wince at the antelope’s pain. Easily forgetting the lion’s hunger. This shows how basically our morality tends. We cannot deny the elegance of the ‘food chain’, but it grates against our notion of self-preservation.
We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.
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My unfortunate conclusion is that it matters not at all; whether you kill it or not, or whether it has a consciousness or pain. Ethics, being a purely human construct, is irrelevant, save to assuage our own reflexive guilt. But insofar as that is true, then do as you feel you should.
If you have a philosophical objection to killing, you could place a tiny droplet of beer or wine next to the damaged insect. This will have a suitably anaesthetic effect, and ensure that the final moments of the insect are happy, if the thing is in fact capable of happiness. It’s also a good excuse for opening a bottle of beer or wine, and the insect’s share hardly diminishes from the total.
Looks like the philosophers and theists have made their cases. As far as entomologists are concerned, insects do not have pain receptors the way vertebrates do. They don’t feel ‘pain’, but may feel irritation and probably can sense if they are damaged. Even so, they certainly cannot suffer because they don’t have emotions. If you heavily injure an insect, it will most likely die soon: either immediately because it will be unable to escape a predator, or slowly from infection or starvation. Ultimately this crippling will be more of an inconvenience to the insect than a torturous existence, so it has no ‘misery’ to be put out of, but also no real purpose. If it can’t breed any more it has no reason to live.
In other words, I have not answered your question because, as far as the science is concerned, neither the insect nor the world will really care either way. Personally, though, I’d avoid doing more damage than you’ve already done. 1) Maybe the insect will recover, depending on how damaged it is. 2) Some faiths do forbid taking animal lives, so why go out of your way to kill? 3) You’ll stain your shoe.
Matan Shelomi, entomologist
14 “Harmless” Bugs You D >
Even the sweetest bugs can bite if provoked. Here are a few insects you wouldn’t suspect.
That cute little crawler may not be as cuddly as you think. “They may have defensive and offensive mechanisms that allow them to survive in the wild,” says Sydney Crawley, a public health entomologist and consultant for Scotts Miracle-Gro. “For example, some very pretty, seemingly innocuous caterpillars have urticating hairs that contain poison that may pierce the skin and cause pain and other adverse reactions. If you are not familiar with an insect, it is best to leave it alone.” Watch out for these 10 dangerous bugs this summer!
Fire ants—which give multiple painful stings if you happen to come across them—aren’t the only member of the ant family who could bite. However, it is rare for other ants to take a nibble. “Most common household ant species do not bite humans, with the exception of the carpenter ant,” Smith says. “When a carpenter ant nest is disturbed, the ants can break the skin with their painful bite. The carpenter ant sprays the open bite with formic acid, and that increases the pain of the bite.” Wiping up food and drink spills can go a long way toward making your home less attractive to ants.
These cute little green bugs are super tempting too hold—but if you squeeze them too tight, they might bite. “A grasshopper may bite if it is being held too tightly or feels threatened,” Crawley says. Additionally, spines on the legs of a grasshopper may cause irritation when pressed into the skin, which would most likely result from tight grasping. You can avoid getting bitten by observing grasshoppers from a distance—or holding them very gently with open palms if you really want to pick one up. If you do get bitten, your skin might be mildly irritated—but a little antiseptic will help, he says. Find out 13 secrets about all the creepy bugs you can think of.
Commonly fed to insect-eating reptiles people keep as pets, these insect larvae can make tiny little bites in your skin. “People who work with mealworms and superworms (another type of mealworm) get bit thousands of times, enough to have raw, reddened skin,” says James Daniel Ricci, an entomologist, and the co-founder and CTO of Ovipost, a company that produces automation equipment for rearing insects. “Only the very largest beetle grubs in the world are actually capable of doing too much damage or even drawing blood.”
Those adorable little red bugs could give you a tiny (and pretty painless) nip. “Ladybugs may bite, but their jaws are very small and it would feel like a tiny pinch at worst, and it would be almost impossible to break human skin,” says Joseph Spagna, PhD, William Paterson University associate professor of biology. “Ladybugs are ecologically helpful—they spend their days eating plant-damaging insects like aphids in large numbers. Being gentle with them when they land on you is about all you would need to do to stay on 100 percent-friendly terms.”
“Larger beetles, like large stag beetles, can do some damage with their massive mouthparts, usually when they feel threatened or if they’re trying to steady themselves,” Ricci says. “Usually this is pretty mild, barely more than a stubbed toe or a pinprick. Ice the area if it’s at all bruised and use a bandage if necessary.” Try these secrets to avoid bug bites.
These bugs are famous for eating lots of garden pests and biting off the heads of their mates—but their jaws could put a pinch on you, too. “Praying mantises are non-threatening, carnivorous insects that are typically disinterested in humans,” says Crawley. “However, when they perceive a threat, they are capable of biting or using their powerful forelegs lined with spikes as a defense mechanism. Mantids may perceive humans as a threat if they move very quickly toward them or grasp them tightly. Their bite or pinch is enough to break human skin and may be painful. If you must hold one, move slowly and keep an open palm, and preferably allow them to walk toward you. If bitten, gentle cleansing and treatment with an antiseptic should be sufficient,” he says.
These loud and large bugs generally won’t bite people with their thin, sucker-like mouths—unless, of course, you hold on to them a bit too long. Keep your distance, and you should be fine. Learn how many bugs you might be eating—and you don’t even know it!
Most gnats are just a big nuisance. But a tiny, gnat-like fly called a biting midge (you might know them as “no-see-ums”) can make tiny bites that can burn and leave big red welts. If you’re in an area where they’re common, you’ll need a fine mesh screen on your windows and doors to help keep the no-see-ums out.
The standard housefly rarely bites, but he has a lot of nippy cousins. “There are many different types of biting flies: deer flies, horse flies, stable flies, and black flies,” says Crawley. “Regardless of species, they all have one thing in common—they’re out for blood. What’s more, coming inside isn’t even a guarantee that you’re safe from biting flies, since they can get inside your home.” Running a fan can help you keep these pests away. Here are 8 more ways to keep bugs out of your house.
Dragonflies don’t buzz around looking for humans to bite—but if you’re another bug, watch out. “Dragonflies have powerful biting mouthparts that are primarily used for capturing mosquitoes, midges, and flies as a food source,” Smith says. “Dragonflies will not bite humans in most cases, but the rare exception may occur when handling a live dragonfly; they may bite you as a means of self-defense.”
Some species of crickets, such as the Jerusalem cricket, are capable of biting humans if provoked. Still, it’s rare for these critters to bite. “The cricket species kids run into in North America are basically harmless,” Spagna says. “I handle the common ‘house cricket’ Acheta domesticus in my behavior classes regularly, with bare hands, and they have never bitten me.” Try these techniques to keep the worst bugs away.
“It’s not an insect, but millipedes, the friendly, docile relative of the centipedes, can hurt humans when they’re threatened,” Ricci says. “The yellow-spotted millipede will curl into a ball when threatened, and leak hydrogen cyanide, a strong poison, onto the person holding it. This isn’t usually enough to kill a human, but you definitely should wash your hands thoroughly and avoid touching your face or eating food immediately after!”
Sp > Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock
Spiders get a bad rap, considering their very important role in helping keep the bug population in check. Spider bites are rare—they won’t bite unless they feel threatened and in the United States, other than the brown recluse and the black widow, spiders bites are harmless. “My students have shared with me many myths about ‘the most dangerous insect’ or the ‘most venomous spider,’” says Dr. Spagna. “These are not just mostly wrong—they tend to be wildly wrong! People generally overestimate the danger of things that give them a creepy feeling.” They’re not only helpful, spiders make the most incredible webs—just check these examples out.