By Kate Torpie, Garden Guides Contributor
Grasshoppers are very hard to control. They can range in color from greenish to yellow-brown. They are often confused with katydids and crickets, which belong to the same family. There can be more than 50 species of grasshopper living within the same state. Most will eat grasses, but some prefer leafy vegetable plants,YOUR leafy vegetable plants. Most spend the winter in an egg pod about three inches underground. In late spring, a nymph emerges. It begins to eat. Other than the fact that it cannot fly, it looks a lot like the adult grasshopper. After about two months, they are able to reproduce.
Prevention and Control
The best control is preventative. You cannot control a population if they begin a migration into your garden. Insecticides will not work. You need to keep them out. One way is to plant a mixture of grass and wildflowers outside of your garden, before they "hop the fence" to make it in. This will give them something to feed on. Another is to work with neighbors to uncover eggs by tilling the soil. When laid, the eggs are covered with a foamy substance. If you cannot find this, look for areas that are uncultivated and dry. These are the types of areas grasshoppers choose.
Wide range of plants and trees.
Most species of grasshoppers will feed on the foliage of just about any plant; some even lay eggs inside plant tissue; they can eat tremendous amounts of foliage or crops. Grasshoppers are often confused with locusts. They do not "swarm" like locusts, but some species do have a population explosion every 11 to 20 years.
Blister and ground beetles, bluebirds, crows, mockingbirds, horse-hair worm (parasitizes and kills hoppers), spiders, chickens, ducks, cats, snakes, toads and many more.
Diatomaceous earth, and Neem oil can be used as a barrier, but most will not die when sprayed with insecticides.
Other Methods of Control
* Place a metal screen over your plants.
* Plant horehound, cilantro, and calendula plants; or spray garlic oil on the plants you already have. All repel grasshoppers.
* Nosema locustae is a parasite which can be purchased at a garden center. It is very effective in killing entire populations.
* Fill a jar halfway with molasses and bury it to soil level. Empty it as needed.