How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers: 11 Natural Ways to Kill Grasshoppers in the Garden

How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers are hungry insects that can quickly destroy plants and vegetables in your garden. Although they seem small and insignificant, large numbers of grasshoppers can become garden pests. An invasion of grasshoppers can rapidly munch their way through green vegetable leaves, broadleaf plants, and grasses. Thankfully, there are effective ways to kill grasshoppers in your garden naturally.

Grasshoppers are a group of plant-eating insects in the suborder Caelifera. There are around 600 species of grasshoppers in the U.S. and 30 that cause significant damage to crops and plants. Of course, in small numbers, grasshoppers can add to a garden’s biodiversity. But in large numbers and out of control, grasshoppers can quickly ruin your garden landscape.

Preventing, controlling, and eradicating grasshoppers requires a multi-method approach. To stop grasshoppers from becoming pests, it’s essential to understand their life cycle. However, you should also know how to avoid attracting them to your backyard. Then it’s vital to use natural pest-control methods to kill the grasshopper pests.

This article is a guide to getting rid of grasshoppers from your garden. You will learn about some of the most effective natural ways to stop these pesky insects from destroying your garden landscape.

How to Identify Grasshoppers in Your Garden

Grasshoppers are typically brown or green insects that measure around 2” (5 cm) long with a narrow, long body. An identifying feature of grasshoppers is their large, angled hind legs. Grasshopper’s heads are at a vertical angle to their body, with chewing mouth-parts at the bottom to feed on vegetation.

It can be hard to spot grasshoppers in the garden because they camouflage well with plant foliage. Some species of grasshoppers can look like twigs, leaves, or bark on plants and vegetation.

Grasshoppers also look like crickets and katydids, and it can be easy to mistake them for these insects. However, grasshoppers and locusts tend to be active during the day, whereas crickets are more active at night.

Grasshopper Life Cycle

The life cycle of grasshoppers starts as nymphs that hatch from eggs. Female grasshoppers lay egg pods in the ground near the end of summer. Nymphs usually hatch in late spring or early summer and molt five or six times before becoming adults. It takes between 40 and 60 days for nymphs to become adults.

A grasshopper’s life span is about twelve months. Adult grasshoppers can eat up to half of their body weight daily. So, a large infestation of these ravenous insects can cause devastation in garden landscapes.

Understanding the life cycle of grasshoppers is key to getting rid of them from your yard.

Where do Grasshoppers Come From?

Grasshoppers usually start their life in weedy areas where the females lay eggs. Nymphs generally stay close to where they hatched. When they reach adulthood, grasshoppers can fly to other areas in search of food. You typically find grasshoppers in warm, dry climates in fields, grasslands, and, of course, your garden.

What Attracts Grasshoppers to Your Garden?

Grasshoppers mainly feed on grass, plants, and the green leafy parts of crops. Different types of plants attract different species of grasshoppers. For example, some grasshopper species prefer weedy plants and don’t feed on ornamental plants. However, other species of grasshoppers are attracted by crops such as lettuce, onions, and beans.

The best way to control grasshoppers is to have good gardening practices, disturb their life cycle, and use natural pest controls to protect your plants.

Grasshopper Damage to Plants

Large swarms of grasshoppers can destroy citrus trees, vegetables, and garden plants. Grasshoppers in their third, fourth, and fifth nymphal stages have the most enormous appetite. In severe cases, grasshoppers can strip garden plants and trees of leaves. Reducing the number of grasshoppers is the only way to minimize the damage they do in the garden.

The damage that grasshoppers do to plants is similar to other insects. The first signs of plant damage could be holes in plant leaves and gnawed leaf edges. If their numbers are large, grasshoppers can strip plants, shrubs, and even trees of vegetation.

How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers

Let’s look in detail at the best ways of getting rid of these plant-destroying insects from your garden.

Till the Ground to Control Grasshoppers in Gardens

Tilling the soil in the fall and spring is one of the best ways of preventing grasshoppers in your garden. Soil tillage disturbs the habitat of females in the fall and exposes their eggs. In spring, cultivating the ground helps eliminate weeds and removes a favorite place for grasshoppers to grow and feed.

Researchers from the University of Nebraska say that cutting back weeds and vegetation also exposes grasshopper nymphs to predators that feed on them. Also, tilling soil twice a year prevents grasshoppers from feeding and laying eggs, thus reducing their numbers.

Get Rid of Weeds to Deter Grasshoppers

Regular weeding is another way to control grasshoppers naturally. Some grasshopper species especially love weed plants such as snakeweed. Removing weeds throughout the year reduces feeding opportunities for the plant-destroying insects.

Weeding also encourages grasshoppers out from your flower beds or vegetable patches and into lawns, where they do less noticeable damage.

Further reading: 13 Homemade Weed Killers: Natural, Safe, Non-Toxic DIY Weed Killers.

Nosema locustae to Kill Grasshoppers

Nosema locustae is a fungus that kills grasshoppers organically. This grasshopper-killing fungus is mixed with a grain that the garden pests feed on. The fungus spores affect a grasshopper’s digestive system, causing it to become lethargic and stop eating. Infected grasshoppers also transmit the disease to other insects.

According to some studies, Paranosema locustae effectively reduces grasshopper populations. Because grasshoppers pass this disease on to other species of grasshoppers, it is suitable for long-term grasshopper control. The study concluded that using Nosema locustae is useful for preventing grasshoppers and as a bio-pesticide.

Nolo Bait to Eradicate Grasshoppers

Nolo bait (also called grasshopper bait) is a commercial product that contains Nosema locustae. The biological grasshopper control is non-toxic to wild animals, pets, humans, and livestock. The bait is wheat bran that has been treated with Nosema locustae to kill grasshoppers naturally.

To use grasshopper bait to get rid of the leaf-eating pests, you should apply the powder to areas where grasshoppers typically live. Apply along the perimeter of your yard where longer grass usually grows. You can also apply grasshopper bait to flower beds, lawns, and shrub borders.

Use Beauveria bassiana to Prevent Grasshoppers in Gardens

Prevent grasshoppers by organic methods by applying Beauveria bassiana. Beauveria bassiana is a soil fungus that acts as a parasite, killing grasshoppers before they get the chance to damage your garden plants. After ingesting the natural spores, the grasshopper nymphs become infected and quickly die.

You can buy Beauveria bassiana from online stores. To apply to plant foliage, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on making and using the solution.

Research suggests that natural products containing Beauveria bassiana affect grasshopper feeding behavior and result in increased mortality.

Natural Grasshopper Predators

Get rid of grasshoppers from your garden by introducing natural predators. Many birds gorge on small insects such as grasshoppers and can help control their populations. You can attract birds to your garden by setting up bird feeders, providing nesting areas, and planting bird-friendly plants.

Birds such as blue jays, blackbirds, great crested flycatchers, and bluebirds enjoy a diet of small insects, especially grasshoppers.

Another type of bird that feeds on grasshoppers is chickens. Chickens forage around gardens looking for small insects to eat. An added bonus of keeping chickens is that you get a free supply of eggs.

Floating Row Covers to Protect Plants from Grasshoppers

You can protect your plants from chewing grasshoppers by using floating row covers. The physical barriers can protect prized vegetables from a grasshopper attack. You will need to use a good quality, lightweight fabric and avoid the fabric touching plant foliage. Grasshoppers have been known to chew through all sorts of materials to get to plant vegetation.

Researchers from Utah State University say that lightweight row covers are suitable for organic grasshopper control. However, it would be best if you opened the covers in the morning to allow pollinators to your plants’ flowers.

DIY Neem Oil Spray to Kill Grasshoppers in Your Garden

A homemade neem oil spray can act as an organic grasshopper repellent and pesticide. Use two teaspoons of neem oil and a teaspoon of liquid dish soap for every quart (1 l) of water. Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and apply to plants and crops where grasshoppers frequent.

Neem oil works on grasshoppers due to a substance called azadirachtin. This plant chemical repels grasshoppers and interferes with their hormones, thus affecting the egg-laying process. Liberally spray your garden plants with the neem oil solution weekly for best results.

There is scientific research backing up the claims of neem oil as an organic grasshopper control method. Scientists found that applying neem oil to plants resulted in a 50 percent reduction in grasshopper populations. The research concluded that neem oil could be “very effective” in controlling the number of grasshoppers.

Homemade Garlic Spray for Grasshopper Eradication

You could keep grasshoppers out of your garden by using garlic spray. To make a garlic spray, crush 6 cloves of garlic and combine with 1.25 quarts (1.4 l) of water. Leave overnight. Strain through muslin into a spray bottle and apply the garlic spray solution to your plants.

Unfortunately, the garlic spray is only useful for small areas as it is time-consuming to create. You can also buy a commercial garlic spray for grasshoppers. However, it’s usually best to prevent grasshoppers by tilling and weeding rather than spraying plants with garlic.

Natural Hot Pepper Grasshopper Spray Repellent

Use a hot pepper wax spray to deter grasshoppers from eating plants and vegetables. A commercial pepper insect spray leaves a spicy film on foliage that prevents grasshoppers from eating them. The addition of a waxy substance in these sprays means that you don’t have to reapply them after it rains.

Like the garlic spray, a pepper spray may only be suitable for applying to a few plants in your garden.

Use Flour to Kill Grasshoppers

Some gardeners claim that dusting plants and crops with flour is a natural way to kill grasshoppers. It is said that the flour creates a sticky substance in grasshoppers’ mouths. This seemingly causes their mouths to stick together, preventing them from eating.

However, there is no evidence that this grasshopper control method is effective.

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