Grasshoppers & Crickets

Over 20,000 species of grasshoppers have been identified around the world, and over 1,000 exist in the United States. Many species of grasshoppers are general herbivores feeding on a variety of plants, but some species only feed on grasses. Some species, under the right conditions, can have population booms and cause serious crop or pasture damage. Grasshoppers are present from the spring to fall, but are most noticeable in the autumn once substantial damage has been done and adults are active in high numbers. Natural predators of grasshoppers include birds, lizards, mantids, spiders, and rodents.

Grasshopper Life Cycle:

Eggs overwinter and hatch beginning late May through early July. The timing is dependent on temperature and varies by species. Grasshoppers undergo incomplete metamorphosis, going through 4-5 instars with each resembling adults, but are slightly smaller and wingless. These instars, or nymphs, feed voraciously as they mature and shed their old exoskeleton once they have outgrown it. Feeding continues into adulthood when grasshoppers mate. Females lay egg pods in the soil with each containing up to 100 eggs. Egg laying is typically done in August, September and October. Grasshopper infestations are cyclical and occur each 3-7 years depending on environmental conditions, lasting up to 5 years at a time.

How To Control Grasshopers:

If you are seeing adult grasshoppers and damage to the plants already, physical control measures like handpicking adults and trapping in soapy water is a proven control measure. If adult grasshoppers are present in high numbers, treating with an insecticide containing Azadirachtin or Pyrethrins may be optimal. Products like Pyganic Gardening and Azamax are effective controls. Repeated applications are necessary.

These measures can be taken early in the warm season to prevent large infestations:

  • Plant and cultivate trap crops surrounding the growing areas you are trying to protect from grasshopper incursion. Some trap crop examples include tall grasses and grain crops (e.g. wheat, rye, Timothy Grass). It is important to keep the trap crop healthy and green, so they are attracted to the grasshoppers not to your crops. Always plant trap crops early in the season to allow them to mature in time to lure pests.
  • Diatomaceous Earth can be applied as an additional deterrent surrounding growing areas; however, reapplication is necessary once diatomaceous earth absorbs moisture. In addition, it is difficult to ensure grasshoppers will crawl through it, limiting its effectiveness.
  • Garlic Barrier can be applied throughout the growing area and is a general repellent designed to deter pests from encroaching on your crops in a garden, field or pasture.
  • Semaspore and Nolo Bait contain the most effective organic solution for grasshopper & cricket control – the protozoa, Nosema locustae. Both are most effective when applied while grasshopper/cricket nymphs are still present and become infected before they are more resistant as adults. This product will not harm humans, pets or the environment. Click Here for additional information regarding grasshopper control with Semaspore and Nolo Bait.
  • Beauveria bassiana products like BotaniGard and Mycotrol can be applied to plant foliage to control grasshoppers already feeding on plant material. Once ingested, B. bassiana infects the host, deters feeding and generally kills it within one week.

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