Two main pests often cause chewing damage to plants. One of them is the grasshopper, and the other is the caterpillar insect.
Grasshoppers are harmful insects that feed on garden plants and field crops. As a result, you must get rid of them before an infestation occurs.
These critters date back to the early Triassic, and it is believed that they are one of the oldest chewing herbivorous insects.
Grasshoppers are listed as being in the Class Insecta, Order Orthoptera, and Suborder Caelifera which has about 11,000 species.
They are all over the world except for very cold areas like Antarctica. Additionally, they vary in size and color (green, brown, red, orange, and even rainbow), depending on their species.
They have three main life cycles, and their lifespans depend upon their species.
Males insert sperm into the female’s vagina and fertilize the eggs. The female lays the eggs and sprays them with a semi-liquid substance that creates a pod around them.
Each of the pods contains approximately 15 to 150 eggs, and each female can lay as many as 25 pods, depending on her species.
The eggs are laid in midsummer, hidden under soil or leaf litter, and hatch ten months later.
This stage has five instars or molting stages where it sheds its exoskeleton as it grows. However, they can eat after they are one day old and will eat about half their body weight every day.
Nymphs are wingless and can’t reproduce. They also only eat succulent and soft plant foliage low to the ground.
They remain in this cycle for 5-6 weeks though it can be shorter depending on the species.
After the last molting, nymphs emerge as adults, but their wings are not formed yet. It takes about a month for the wings to completely develop.
Meanwhile, the adult grasshopper diet is more substantial, eating even more than the nymphs as they grow their wings and look for mates.
Females start laying eggs 1-2 weeks after becoming adults, and they will continue to do so every 3-4 days until death occurs.
Adults live for about two months, but their lifespan can be shorter or longer, depending on the weather.
How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers Naturally
These are some great natural methods and home remedies to either kill or stop the pests from eating your plants.
1. Garlic Spray
Garlic is one of the cheapest home remedies to repel grasshoppers and keep locusts away from crops.
To make garlic spray for grasshoppers, blend 2 bulbs of garlic in 1 quart of water. Additionally, add one teaspoon of liquid soap to the solution.
Strain and store in a glass jar until you are ready to spray. When ready, add 10 parts water to one part of the solution.
Spray early in the morning when the plants are dry, coating evenly, even the underside of leaves. Reapply this homemade grasshopper spray once a week and after every rain.
2. Vinegar Spray
Another DIY natural spray repellent, vinegar makes this spray. Moreover, you can use either plain white or apple cider vinegar.
To get rid of grasshoppers with vinegar, mix one part with three parts water and add 4-5 drops of liquid soap. Apply just as you do garlic spray.
3. Natural Predators
Grasshoppers have lots of natural predators, including:
- Ground beetles
- Praying mantis
- Some snakes
4. Grass Trap
Another grasshopper control method is the grass trap. Grasshoppers like to eat grass and other plants in the grass family.
Therefore, planting grass on the edges of your garden as well as in isolated parts of your yard will draw them away from the plants you want to eat yourself.
Attracting birds is a great way to kill grasshoppers on plants organically. All kinds of birds love eating flying insects. Bluebirds, blackbirds, chickens, hawks, guineas, and blue jays all eat the critters.
Providing a source of water and shelter as well as roosting spots will draw many wild birds to you. Moreover, chickens and guinea fowl make great domestic pets and both lay eggs that are good to eat.
However, chickens tend to do damage to some garden plants while guinea fowl are noisy. But on the plus side, having them is a smart way of controlling grasshoppers in your vegetable garden.
6. Nolo Bait
This is a brand of natural insecticide made from wheat bran. It’s covered with a one-celled protozoan called Nosema locustae.
This biological insecticide kills grasshoppers and insects closely related to them, including Mormon crickets and locusts.
In 2-4 weeks after application, half the population will be dead, and the other half only eating and breeding half as much.
Nolo Bait is a long-term solution that will require repeat applications to be successful.
7. Hot Pepper Spray
Mixing hot peppers with garlic, water, and organic liquid soap makes an excellent natural grasshopper repellent spray.
Moreover, it will repel any insect as both the taste and the smell of the solution will be horrible to them. Apply the spray just as you do with garlic spray.
8. Soapy Water
This home remedy tends to be a bit time-consuming, but it kills them.
Early in the morning before the bugs warm-up and start moving, knock them off the plants into a bucket of soapy water where they’ll drown or onto the ground where you can squish them.
You can also spray the solution on your plants or areas of infestation. For the recipe, mix 4 tablespoons of liquid soap in a gallon of water. Dawn dish soap can work; however, use organic soaps for organic vegetable gardens.
This solution will help you keep grasshoppers off your plants and prevent attacks. Moreover, it also works on locusts if they are not in swarms.
Do this early in the spring and right after harvest. Both times will serve to kill egg pods and disrupt this part of the grasshopper’s life cycle.
Using a fluffy brush or a makeup brush, dusting your plants with flour is a great way to get rid of these insects.
Regular household flour, when it mixes with the pest’s saliva, creates a glue that seals up its mouth. As a result, they will die from hunger before they can get it off.
A pond or any other water source is sure to attract frogs to your garden, and they love eating grasshoppers. In dry areas, toads are also good for getting rid of these insects.
12. Neem Oil
Neem oil is a natural insecticide for plants. It is most effective when sprayed directly on nymphs as their bodies are still pretty soft and susceptible to poisoning.
Therefore, coating your plants with the product will make them unpalatable to nymphs and adults.
To use neem oil for grasshoppers, combine four teaspoons of it with two teaspoons of organic liquid soap in a gallon of water and shake well. Finally, use this homemade grasshopper killer spray to coat your plants.
13. Plants They Don’t Like
There are several plants grasshoppers won’t eat — not just flowers but herbs and vegetables as well. Some will also keep them away.
Plants that repel grasshoppers include Dianthus, Lantana, Chinese Brake Fern, Moss Rose, Verbena, Jasmine, Sage, and Crepe myrtle.
Using these as companion plants in your garden will turn these plant-eaters away before they do any damage.
14. Row Covers
Cover the rows of plants in early spring before any egg pods hatch, and the nymphs won’t be able to get a start on your garden. This means they will go elsewhere to eat. Row covers will also keep away the adults.
15. Kaolin Clay
Natural powdered clay you mix with water and liquid soap before applying to your plants. Kaolin clay will adhere to the insect, and like flour, glue their mouths shut.
16. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
DE is another excellent natural way to repel all types of bad garden pests. However, this method is only effective on nymphs whose legs are soft.
Dusting diatomaceous earth on the base of the plants nymphs feed on will either repel or kill them when they try to eat. However, it is best to use Food-grade DE for controlling grasshoppers in vegetable gardens and in your house.
17. Insecticidal Soap Spray
Insecticidal soaps made with pure organic ingredients can be purchased commercially. These contain potassium salts of fatty acids.
The solution is only effective when sprayed on the nymphs but might repel adults as well.
18. Molasses Trap
For this grasshopper bait recipe, all you’ll need is molasses and water.
Fill a yellow bucket with water and 10% molasses. Next, place it in the rows where your crops are planted to draw them in and drown them.
You can also bury a jar halfway into the ground partly filled with a water-molasses solution (10:1). The critters will then hop in.
Pick the dead ones out and reuse the trap.
19. Semaspore Bait
This is another brand that contains Nosema locustae. Great for killing grasshoppers, Semaspore Bait should be applied to hatching beds (grassy areas).
For more details on how to properly apply, follow the directions on the container.
Locust vs Grasshopper
Grasshoppers are typically solitary and only come together to mate. However, they can gather for feeding in small groups when there’s plenty of food. They’re a nuisance, but they don’t cause a huge amount of damage.
Locusts are social, and they live together in groups, flying together from one patch of food to another. Swarms of locusts have been one of the leading factors of famine in some of the poorer parts of the world.
Additionally, locusts have smaller bodies and bigger, stronger wings for long-distance flying, though the pasture grasshopper is also a strong flier.
Grasshoppers and locusts can be quite destructive to your garden; however, the best offense is a good defense.
By stopping even a single grasshopper from invading, you can save yourself a lot of work and lost crops. Following the above remedies will help.