Grasshoppers are amongst the most destructive pests for home gardens due to their agility, their habit of eating anything green in sight, and their fast reproduction. In this article, we’ll tell you all you need to know about how to get rid of grasshoppers in your garden and yard.
You can employ strategies such as inviting natural predators, using natural methods, covering your plants, setting traps, and applying chemical insecticides.
Read to learn in detail how to use each method to control grasshoppers in your garden or yard.
- Why Grasshoppers are a Problem
- How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers in Your Garden
- How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers in Your Yard
- What Causes Grasshoppers in Yards?
- When to Control the Grasshoppers in Your Yard
- FAQ About Grasshoppers in the Yard
Why Grasshoppers are a Problem
Grasshoppers have significant destructive power, and because of their mobility, fast reproduction, and disastrous feeding habits, they are one of the hardest pests to control. They usually attack gardens in early summer, when the range weeds dry up or when grasshopper populations increase and crops alone won’t satisfy their hunger.
Grasshopper infestations usually last only a few weeks, but they can last longer in years with large outbreaks. The key to grasshopper control is prevention: Once an infestation is upon you, it becomes nearly impossible to control.
But don’t worry, here we’ll discuss everything you need to know about how to kill grasshoppers and how to keep grasshoppers off the plants and veggies in your garden and yard.
How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers in Your Garden
1. Till and Control Weeds
To stop any pest infestation, start with prevention as a key part of an integrated pest management strategy:
- Till your soil: Since female grasshoppers deposit their eggs in undisturbed soil, till your soil to interfere with the grasshopper’s life cycle and prevent a future infestation. Till your soil in early spring and do a second round during the period the female lays its eggs, in late summer or early fall.
- Control weeds: Weedy yards are very attractive to grasshoppers. When the eggs hatch, weeds are usually the first thing grasshopper nymphs eat. Controlling the weeds in your garden will reduce its attractiveness for egg-laying adults and deprive nymphs of their main food source.
2. Use Natural Methods
When it comes to chemical pesticides, their big downside is that they can harm beneficial insects and pollinators. If you want to know how to kill grasshoppers (or just repel them) without killing the bees, try these natural, DIY pest control alternatives:
- Neem oil is a natural insecticide that can be an effective grasshopper killer. Spray neem oil solution on your garden when grasshoppers’ eggs are just hatching as nymphs, usually in spring or early summer.
- Diatomaceous earth is a powder that consists of the fossilized remains of diatoms (tiny aquatic beings). Diatomaceous earth kills insects by dehydrating their exoskeletons. Spread it around the base of plants or in areas where grasshoppers are present.
- Garlic can also keep the grasshoppers at bay. Create a garlic spray by blending minced garlic cloves with water. Boil the mixture and let it sit overnight. Spray the solution on your plants, and the strong garlic odor will act as grasshopper repellent.
- Vinegar can work when dealing with small infestations. If you’re wondering how to get rid of grasshoppers with vinegar, there are two ways. The first one is to mix apple cider vinegar with water and use this homemade grasshopper spray on your yard.
The second way is to place a jar with this mixture in an open area of your yard. The grasshoppers will try to feed on it, fall into the container, and become prey to other animals.
- Flour works like a gum that seals the grasshoppers’ mouths. Sprinkle it over your plants to save your crop.
- Kaolin clay is safe for humans and the environment. When sprayed on plants, it creates a barrier that makes it difficult for grasshoppers to feed. It also acts as a deterrent.
Pro tip: You might see some DIY recipes that include soap in the composition, but it is important to note that you should use a well-diluted solution since high concentrations of soap can burn your plants. Use just two teaspoons for one pint of water.
3. Cover Your Plants
Use row covers to physically block grasshoppers from reaching your plants or veggies. This is particularly effective in the early stages of plant growth.
A pro tip: Some particularly hungry grasshoppers can munch through cloth and plastic covers. To prevent this problem, use metal window screening instead.
4. Plant Trap Crops and Grasshopper-Repellent Plants
Distract grasshoppers from your beloved flowers and veggies with a trap crop or keep them at bay by planting plants they hate:
- Trap crops: Keep a tall border of grass or other plants (which will look very yummy for the grasshoppers) around your garden area. Once they are enjoying a free dinner of these grasshopper trap crops, you can treat or remove them more easily. If there are only a few of them, you can even handpick the hungry hoppers.
- Grasshopper-repellent plants: Shield your garden with plants that grasshoppers prefer to stay away from. Cilantro, forsythia, sage, lilac, artemisia, garlic — these are all plants that repel grasshoppers.
5. Opt for Biological Controls
Another option is to use grasshopper biological control agents, that can either come as baits, powders, or liquid formulations. These are commercially available and include two main active agents:
- The fungus Beauveria bassiana
- Or the protozoan Nosema locustae
Both infect and kill grasshoppers, but can lose their effect after rain, so you might have to reapply the powders and liquids or set up new baits. Additionally, Nosema locustae baits act very slowly and only affect nymphs of certain grasshopper species. For home gardens in the California area, these might not be the best option.
How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers in Your Yard
1. Invite Natural Predators
Before grasshoppers eat your precious flowers, consider what eats grasshoppers: Chickens are natural grasshopper predators, in addition to birds, frogs, toads, and predatory insects like spiders, wasps, and some beetles. Here are tips to invite natural predators to your garden:
- Add bird baths or birdhouses to your landscape to invite them in. They’ll sing to you and help take care of those grasshoppers.
- Raise chickens if you have the space and are interested in getting fresh eggs and a free morning alarm along with pest control.
- Build a pond in your yard to invite the frogs and toads in. But remember that standing water sources can attract mosquitoes, so add mosquitofish to your backyard pond to control mosquito larvae.
- Plant native flowers or other plants attractive to wasps, which eat grasshoppers. Asters and other plants from their family are very attractive to wasps, as well as plants from the mint family and milkweeds.
An important note: Although chickens help keep grasshoppers in the garden controlled, they can also damage some plants in your landscape.
A pro tip: Mowing your lawn regularly prevents grasshoppers from finding food or shelter in the tall grass, leaving them exposed to their natural predators.
2. Apply Chemical Insecticides
If the infestation is severe and other methods haven’t been effective so far, you may consider applying chemical insecticides. However, this should be a last resort. If you’re going this route, remember to follow the instructions on the product label and use them responsibly.
Common insecticides for grasshoppers are as follows:
- Carbaryl is the only insecticide dust registered for home garden application.
- Cyfluthrin, permethrin, or other pyrethroids are non-selective and lethal to other beneficial insects that can help with grasshopper control in the long run.
The most effective way to use chemical insecticides against grasshoppers is in the form of baits (permethrin and carbaryl are available as baits) that can be set around the perimeter of your garden before they reach your beloved plants.
Some of these substances can only be handled by a registered professional and cannot be used on edible plants. Ideally, if you don’t feel secure doing this task on your own, call a qualified pest control professional to help you with the correct pesticide application.
What Causes Grasshoppers in Yards?
Grasshoppers usually target crops and fields, visiting gardens sporadically. In years with large population outbreaks, however, grasshoppers extend their attack to nearby home gardens and yards. These outbreaks are expected to happen every eight to 10 years and can last up to two or three years.
Some weather conditions favor grasshopper populations to increase:
- Recurrent warm autumns and dry summers enable grasshoppers to reproduce more.
- Warm temperatures and scarce rainfall dry up vegetation and cause grasshoppers to move from the field into homes in search of food.
When to Control the Grasshoppers in Your Yard
The best remedy against grasshoppers is prevention. Apply treatments, cover your plants, or set the baits during the early summer, when the nymphs have not yet developed wings. Once they fully mature, controlling an established grasshopper infestation is nearly impossible.
Remember to monitor your garden regularly and use a combination of the discussed methods for the best results.
FAQ About Grasshoppers in the Yard
What Plants Do Grasshoppers Eat?
Grasshoppers are avid herbivores and will eat grass, shrubs, leaves, and weeds. But they generally prefer young green plants to munch on such as beans, lettuce, corn, onions, carrots, and some annual flowers. On the other hand, they don’t like squash and tomatoes.
What Do Grasshoppers Look Like?
Grasshoppers have characteristic long hind legs, designed for jumping. They have a more robust body and shorter antennae when compared to katydids and crickets. Most grasshopper species are great flyers.
What Does Grasshopper Damage Look Like?
The tell-tale sign of grasshopper damage is defoliation. You may notice large chewed holes in the leaves. They also feed on ripening grain, and in high-infestation years, they may resort to the stems and crowns. Another indicator of their presence is their characteristic chirping sound.
When to Call a Pro
Sometimes the best you can do is rely on professional knowledge and experience to fight your battles. If you’re dealing with grasshoppers in your yard or garden, call a trusted pest control pro to see the grasshoppers hop away from your plants and veggies.