Handling Grasshoppers

by April Reinhardt
(last updated July 30, 2014)

Do your tulip leaves have jagged, tattered, gaping holes? Does it seem like your entire lettuce bed has been consumed almost overnight? Is your husked corn riddled with holes, with little silk remaining? If so, then it's likely that you have a grasshopper problem.

Commonly about an inch long, in varying colors of green, gray, and brown, grasshoppers have long, narrow bodies, a large head, and chewing mouth parts. Young grasshoppers constantly feed until they mature and grow wings. At two months, grasshoppers are adults and sexually mature enough to breed. Egg pods are laid in late summer and early fall, and then hatch in late spring or early summer. By the time they've invaded your garden or landscape, the damage has only just begun. There are measures you can take to prevent a grasshopper infestation, and a few controls you can try to rid your garden of the pests. Follow these guidelines to learn how to handle your grasshopper situation:

  • Grasshoppers typically feed on gardens and crops when your area is enduring a dry season with little rainfall. When grasslands and fields and dry, they flock to watered landscapes and gardens. You can plant a ring of green plants around your garden to defer an attack.
  • Dust around your plants with an insecticide such as Sevin, since it has been proven highly effective in killing grasshoppers.
  • Spray their eggs in the field with chemical sprays.
  • Use netting on your plants as protection, but make sure that you use a strong net. Grasshoppers can chew through flimsy fabrics with their strong mouth parts.
  • Metal screens are highly effective in protecting plants against grasshoppers, but using screens can be costly.
  • Chickens eat grasshoppers voraciously. If you have a severe grasshopper problem, consider buying a few chickens to rid your garden of the pests.

The most effective way to control grasshoppers is to find their breeding ground and kill them before they hatch and travel. Use insecticides on breeding grounds, which are typically untilled, weedy grounds such as open, untended lots next to roadsides, abandoned factories, and rail yards. Fortunately, grasshopper breeding grounds are fairly small and it is possible to treat a small area with insecticide and kill an entire generation before they hatch.

Some people make the mistake of mowing vacant lots where grasshoppers are known to breed, thinking the loss of grass protection will drive them away. Not true. When you remove their source of food, they will move to your lawn and garden looking for food when they hatch. If you must mow a vacant lot or field, till the soil in fall or early spring to disturb and destroy the grasshopper eggs.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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