Gardening in harsh climates brings grasshopper repellents to mind, doesn't it? While we cannot eradicate grasshoppers from the planet, you can help reduce them in and around our garden with these simple yet effective grasshopper repellents.
In Texas, we get a strong infestation of grasshoppers in July until they die off with cooler temperatures in the early fall. This makes it difficult to even grow a garden because they eat everything off your plants. Drives me crazy. But, the more extreme and dry the weather is, the worse the grasshopper problems become.
But, I still like natural because I want my plants and soil to stay organic and free of pesticides, so I researched this, and here is what I found some grasshopper repellents that help your garden grow.
If you want to use chemical sprays on your grasshoppers at first, you can try these options.
This voracious insect, we all know about is a cousin to the locusts described in many history books. Locust infestations can destroy fields of crops for miles. Honestly, I have seen grasshoppers do similar work in my gardens. 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 and how developed they are in their life cycle. 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 metamorphose into adult grasshoppers.
The female grasshopper lays from 200-400 eggs per season, which 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 lie 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 wings. This stage lasts five to six weeks.
The adult stage of grasshoppers begins when the insect developed through the process of becoming a winged, reproducing insect. It is at this stage that grasshoppers live for 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.
You can see now that you are up against the God-given cycle of an insect, but you can get rid of grasshoppers with some work.
What are some natural grasshopper repellents?
Knowing the life cycle of the grasshopper is key to reducing their harmful effects on the landscape around your home. Killing them off in the fall and winter helps to reduce their impact come spring.
But, even if you are in spring and need to stop their devouring life cycle on your garden, you can make some progress. However, if you have reached the summer, let go of the idea that you will save your garden from them without pesticides on your fruits and vegetables.
Generally, if you want a lush garden, at least in our neck of the woods, learning how to get rid of grasshoppers is critical. They love our hot Texas climate.
Eight grasshopper repellents you need to know
The methods below are generally natural. As I said, I prefer natural, nontoxic methods in place of chemicals and sprays.
While I am all for eliminating grasshoppers from the planet, using chemicals has its pros and cons when it comes to the conservation of our planet. Sure, there may be reasons to use chemicals when the hoppers get too out of control, yet natural methods keep the chemicals out of the water table and may be as effective. This, in my opinion, is a win, win.
Break up or rototill the ground in the garden to break up eggs, especially in the fall to break up any eggs. Considering how grasshoppers lay their eggs, rototilling in the fall helps reduce the population.
Mow close to the ground around your garden to keep the grasshoppers from easily jumping to your vegetables. They like lush areas of growth. The idea simply rests on the premise that the garden is greener on the other side of the fence...
Sprinkle natural grasshopper bait, which makes them sick and want to eat less (at least in your garden.) This may reduce the population if you sprinkle it in your garden area.
Make a garlic spray (such as below). Blend this mix and even let it stew, then strain it and spray it. Many old-time gardeners swear by this method.
Plant herbs such as cilantro, calendula, sweet clover, peas, and horehound, which repel grasshoppers naturally. Co-planting these plants with the vegetables you grow in your garden helps distract them.
Dust plants with diatomaceous earth to prevent them from eating your plants and help kill them off. This fine powdery substance contains finite grains of sharp grains that kill off and repel many insects when sprinkled around your plants.
Invite the birds
Throw out some bird feed, or even add in a birdbath. Hang up bird feeders to make the birds at home. Many birds like to eat grasshoppers. Set up a bird feeder in the vicinity and let eat and discover insects.
Bury jars of molasses and water (1 part to 10 parts) in the ground, so that the grasshoppers are attracted and fall in. While this may not kill off all the grasshoppers, it may help you contain some of the problem.
Garlic spray recipe for grasshoppers:
This is my general insect spray for gardens but does help keep them off your garden plants. This originated with my mother, who uses something similar on her tomato plants. Which, by the way, she seems to be able to grow anywhere...
2 cloves of garlic, pressed or chopped
2 TBL of red chili
2 cups of water
1 TBL of Castile liquid soap
Seep the garlic and peppers in warm water (preferably 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.
Grasshopper repellents work together
Of course, these are not foolproof ways to get rid of grasshoppers, but they will help. Especially when it comes to an overabundant insect that thrives in extreme conditions, using two or more methods of grasshopper control makes sense.
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.
If grasshoppers are driving you crazy every year, plan ahead to get rid of them. Get your grasshoppers under control in stages, beginning with the fall for the best results.