How To Get Rid Of Grasshoppers Organically

Grasshopper on leaf
Grasshoppers are well known for their big appetite! A small number of grasshoppers in our garden is not usually considered a problem, however, when they reach a substantial number, these insects can be very harmful.
 
If our garden has undergone an invasion of grasshoppers, they will likely return the following year. That’s why it is important to act at the very first signs of grasshopper’s damage.
The damage is easily recognizable: you will notice that the leaves of your beloved plants have been nibbled and torn by these greedy eaters. Because of their nomad nature, grasshoppers are one of the toughest insects to fight off!
 

What is the best pesticide against grasshoppers? 

 As with most pests, to be able to eliminate grasshoppers effectively we should act on three fronts:
  1. Environmental
  2. Organic Applications (Pesticide)
  3. Animal Control

Let’s take a closer look at these methods:

Environmental

  1. Till the garden soil:  in late summer/fall and in early spring. The female of the grasshopper lays her eggs at the end of the summer. By tilling the ground, you will prevent the eggs from hatching.
  2. Clean your garden from weeds, as even weeds serve as food for newly hatched nymphs.
  3. Protect your plants by covering them with a cheesecloth or a floating row cover which can be placed over the crops early in the season.
  4. Mow the grass by your garden. By mowing the grass you will leave no food for the grasshoppers and you will expose them to natural predators.
  5. Create an environment that is very attractive to the grasshopper far away from your crops. These insects love areas with long grass. You can isolate the grasshopper to one specific area by creating a border of tall green grass or plants on the perimeter of your garden. The grasshoppers will hang out here rather than feeding on your crops.
  6. Create an environment that is unattractive to the grasshopper. For instance, plant between your crops plants that these critters don’t like such as :
  • Artemisia
  • Crepe Myrtle
  • Dianthus
  • Forsythia
  • Moss rose
  • Verbena
  • Jasmine
  • Sage
  • Lantana

Organic Applications:

 
1. Spray the plants with garlic spray. You can prepare your homemade garlic pesticide with these ingredients:
  • 1 clove of fresh garlic
  • 1 medium-size onion
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid Castile Soap.
  • 1 cup of water.
  • Warm the water in a pot until it begins to steam. Add the garlic, the onion, and the hot peppers. Maintain at a low temperature for 20 minutes. Remove from the stove and let it sit for a couple of hours. Strain the mixture into a spray bottle (make sure that the liquid in the bottle is clear without residues). You can keep this spray for a week in the refrigerator. This pesticide is efficient not only on grasshoppers! It will prevent many other critters from damaging your plants.
2. Sprinkle all-purpose flour over your plants. When the grasshopper will eat the leaves, the thin layer of flour will become a sticky gum that will slowly kill the insect.
 
3. Spray your plants with Neem Oil pesticides. 
 
 
Here is how you can prepare your homemade Neem Oil spray by mixing the following ingredients:
  • 4 teaspoons of Neem Oil
  • 2 teaspoons of dish soap or Castile soap
  • 1 gallon of warm water.
  • Shake well and spray directly on the plants.
4. Sprinkle some boric acid along the garden wall edges. While it is generally safe, be careful when using it around kids and pets.
 
5. Apply biological pesticides such as Nosema locustae and Beauveria bassiana, a fungus that affects the digestion of grasshoppers and eventually kills them.
 
If you want to know more about organic pesticides, I wrote a whole article on how to make your own homemade pesticide. You can read it here.
 
Caution! Not all plants react to pesticides in the same way, therefore it’s important to check beforehand if spraying the plant could damage it. Try testing the spray on a small part of the plant. If there are no signs of leaf damage after a day, then it is safe to use it. If the leaf becomes yellow or damaged, try to dilute the mixture with water and redo the test.
Do not forget to wear gloves and try not to touch your face when handling pesticides, even if they are organic! Keep the out of the reach of children.
 

Animal Control:

  1. Attract frogs and lizards to your garden. They snack on nymphs (young grasshoppers) before they can grow into a problem.
  2. Raise chickens. Chickens will love to feast on grasshoppers and other insects. If you have the possibility to have few chickens roaming your garden that’s the way to go!
  3. Attract birds to your garden. They are grasshoppers, natural predators. You can do so by installing birdbaths and bird feeders in your garden.

Are Grasshoppers Bad For The Garden?

A large number of grasshoppers can be dangerous to your garden. As a matter of fact, grasshoppers can decimate your garden, leaving it without leaves, unable to grow, in a matter of days.
 
Many people often get confused between grasshoppers and crickets. I have wrote an article about them that you can read here.
When talking about damage to plants and gardens related to grasshoppers, people often refer to them as locusts.
 
Let’s try to shed some light on these insects and understand what’s the difference between the two.
 

What’s The Difference Between Grasshoppers And Locusts?

Grasshoppers are solitary insects, however, some species can change behavior and color under certain conditions which are a shortage of food and high population density. When this happens, they switch from a solitary phase into a gregarious phase and begin looking for the company of others to form swarms. At this point, they are known as locusts.
When they are in this phase, they form dense clouds of highly mobile flying swarms, containing millions of locusts, which behave as an entity.
Just to give you an example, a small swarm can be made up of 80 million locusts and can consume the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people!!

What Do Grasshoppers Eat?

Grasshoppers are herbivores and will feed on any vegetation that is available. They will eat 50% of their body fat every single day (!) and they usually love our gardens because they have optimal moisture and excellent plant growing conditions. Among their favorite plants are:
 
Corn
Small Grains
Clover
Grasses
Soybeans
Lettuce
Carrots
Beets
Onions
 
They don’t like tomato leaves, squash, and peas, however, if the food is scarce and the number of grasshoppers is high, they will eat them as well before flying to other destinations.
 
How Can You Prevent From Grasshopper Population To Grow?
 
The main factor affecting grasshopper populations is the weather. Grasshoppers thrive in warm and dry summers and they cannot survive the cold. As a matter of fact, cool, wet weather in early summer can cause young grasshoppers to starve to death.
Outbreaks are usually preceded by several years of hot, dry summers and warm autumns. Warm autumns allow grasshoppers more time to feed and lay eggs, and dry weather increases their survival.
Tilling and treating the soil in early autumn and early spring is the best way to stop their reproducing cycle and reduce their population.
 
After all that has been said, a handful of grasshoppers in your garden is no cause for alarm and may actually be a sign of helpful diversity.
 
In conclusion… here is a fun fact about grasshoppers: did you know that there are about 20,000 species of grasshoppers all over the world, making it one of the most common insects on earth, with the only exception perhaps of Antarctica?
 

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Anat Goldberg

Hi! My name is Anat and I have lived all my life in the countryside. I grew on a farm in Northern Italy and from an early age, I took care of the animals on the farm and the family garden. Over the years I have developed a growing passion for organic cultivation and pest control.

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