Grasshopper Control: Expert Advice

Grasshoppers can be difficult to battle, but here are some natural and nontoxic ideas for grasshopper control.

| Aug. 26, 2009

  • Grasshopper control
    Get grasshoppers under control with these safe, natural methods.
    PETER SCHERER/FOTOLIA

  • Grasshopper control

Wherever you find grass, you will also find grasshoppers, and a few of the hundreds of grasshopper species found in North America can be major garden pests. Cool, rainy summers cause many grasshoppers to fall prey to disease, while hot, dry weather can lead to major grasshopper headaches.

Hand-picking them is impractical, because with the help of their big compound eyes, grasshoppers see you before you see them. So what’s a grasshopper-plagued gardener to do? Here are six proven eco-safe strategies for dealing with hordes of ’hoppers.

Maintain Beneficial Havens

Baby grasshoppers hatch in spring and early summer from eggs hidden just beneath the surface in soil. Young grasshoppers hide out in sheltered spots that are dense with vegetation, where most of them are eaten by spiders, ground beetles, frogs and other predators. Thus, islands of dense mixed herbs, grasses and flowers located in or near your garden can serve as early-season traps for young grasshoppers.

Provide Bird Perches

Insect-eating birds are major grasshopper predators, especially in early summer when they must gather high-protein food for their young. Many bug-eating birds like to hunt by watching for movement from a perch, so studding your garden with trellises, posts and other upright structures can help birds feed more efficiently.



Use Row Covers

The surest way to protect plants from hungry grasshoppers is to cover them with a barrier, such as a floating row cover or lightweight cloth. Be sure to hold the covers above plants with hoops or stakes, because grasshoppers are more likely to eat their way inside if leaves are pushing against the fabric. In west Texas and other areas where grasshoppers are especially bad, some gardeners make cones from aluminum screening to keep their plants safe from ’hoppers.

Feed Your Fowl

Chickens, ducks, guineas and other fowl eagerly snap up grasshoppers, but they can also damage garden plants. Ideally, you might let grassy pathways in your garden grow up a bit, and then move in a group of birds in a moveable pen.

TerribleTim
8/24/2014 2:12:36 PM

After chasing the devils around by handpicking I found that a B B gun works great. They don't move and you can get within inches and they don't jump away


Bob1313
6/16/2014 7:34:14 PM

We have tried almost everything to control grasshoppers. We have lots of chickens and they help, but with the number of hoppers we have here, it would take a full brigade of hens working 24/7. Real problems getting any to work the night shift. Used the SemaSpore "bait" this year. Used more than enough, applied in the morning, twice, a few weeks apart. Even dug out an old "Whirlybird" to spread the stuff. Seems to have had more of steroidal effect, if anything. The grasshoppers are so bad here, that they even have killed Rocky Mountain Junipers. Hate to resort to insecticides, but do not know what else to do. Wait for "The Flood"?


JILL HINDERBERGER
8/20/2010 11:22:36 PM

Grasshopper control. You can't hand pick them easily, but you can grab them with your pruners or scissors, cutting them or putting them under your foot and squishing them. For some reason they don't see the tool coming, like they do with your hand. When they try to hide you can use your opposite hand to move them back into range. I don't know if I am making much of a difference in their population, but it gives me some satisfaction! It seems like their numbers are fewer......







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