What is a grasshopper?
Depending on where you live, grasshoppers can be voracious consumers of any plant life. Adult grasshoppers are 1-2 inches long and range from brown to green in color, depending on the local vegetation. They are insects of the order, orthoptera, and have shorter antennae than other hopping insects.
Grasshoppers are born as nymphs, meaning, they are not fully developed. They grow through 5 stages from hoppers until they grow and metamorphosis into adult grasshoppers. The female grasshopper lays from 200-400 eggs per season. That is quite a lot of baby grasshoppers, that if they survive, will produce numerous adult hoppers. They lay more eggs in the soil in the fall, and thrive in abundance when the summers are dry and hot.
Grasshoppers eat cereal, vegetables and grasses, sometimes in large swarms of groups of them. If you are experiencing drought in your area, they will eat everything green until they move into your container plants. If you are here, you know just how destructive grasshoppers can be to your garden. It is then that they become serious pests, feeding on all that you have been growing.
What is the Life Cycle of a grasshopper?
The grasshopper life cycle begins in late summer when eggs are deposited into the ground. They lie dormant through the winter and hatch in the spring. Upon hatching, they begin to eat plant life through the summer. As their food supply dies down, they move on. However, in warmer climates, they live until temperatures hit the low 40s. Grasshoppers do mate, and deposit sperm into the female grasshopper where it fertilizes her eggs.
The egg stage begins the grasshopper’s life. The female deposits her eggs in sand or leaves in about mid summer. She deposits her eggs by pods, or sticky clumps of eggs and may lay as many as 25 pods. The eggs lay dormant through the winter until they hatch in the spring.
The second cycle of a grasshopper embarks in the nymph stage. When the grasshopper hatches from its eggs it is wingless and lacks the ability to reproduce. It is during this stage that the young grasshopper feeds on green growth and slowly develops, shedding its skin and growing wings. They resemble full grown grasshoppers without the wings. This stage lasts five to six weeks.
The adult stage of grasshoppers begins when the insect developed through the process of becoming winged, reproducing insects. It is at this stage that grasshoppers live about two months and then die. It is also, of course, when grasshopper reproduction occurs, and due diligence to prevent and rid your garden of these pests becomes extra important, both for the present and the next growing season.
What are some natural ways to get rid of grasshoppers?
If you want a lush garden, at least in our neck of the woods, learning how to get rid of grasshoppers is critical. While some years here are better than others, some years, it may be a losing proposition to actually plant and grow a garden.
- Break up or rototill the ground in the garden to break up eggs, especially in the fall to break up any eggs.
- Mow close to the ground around your garden to keep the grasshoppers from easily jumping to your vegetables. They like lush areas of growth.
- Sprinkle natural grasshopper bait, which makes them sick and want to eat less (at least in your garden.)
- Make a garlic spray (such as below).
- Plant herbs such as cilantro, calendula, sweet clover, peas and horehound, which repel grasshoppers naturally.
- Dust plants with diatomaceous earth to prevent them from eating your plants and helps kill them off.
- Grow flowering plants with your vegetables and other plants, to bring in birds and other insects, which eat or repel grasshoppers.
- Bury jars of molasses and water (1 part to 10 parts) in the ground, so that the grasshoppers are attracted and fall in.
But don’t forget to put on your insect repellent!
Garlic spray recipe for grasshoppers:
What you need:
2 cloves of garlic, pressed or chopped
2 TBL of red chili
2 cups of water
1 TBL of Castile liquid soap
How you make it:
Seep the garlic and peppers in warm water (preferrably 24 hours), then strain. Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray on the affected plants. Spray daily if you have a large infestation, or choose another method of grasshopper repellent.
Of course, these are not fool-proof ways to eliminate grasshoppers, but it will help. Remember that hot and dry summers help breed grasshoppers, as they tend to shift into a survival stage. So, do warm autumns, as they lay extra eggs from the still green vegetation and continue to live and breed.
Do you have others ways to get rid of grasshoppers? What are some ways you use to get rid of grasshoppers in your garden?