Grasshoppers are some of the more destructive pests known around the world. Not only will they target grass, but they’ll also take over gardens and damage crops and plants. In this article, we’ll provide tips on how to get rid of grasshoppers in your yard so you can have a pest-free property all year long.
What are grasshoppers?
Grasshoppers are medium to large jumping insects commonly found in grasslands, tropical forests, jungles, and semi-arid regions worldwide. They typically lay their eggs in late summer or early fall, preferring dry soil and warm temperatures.
Grasshoppers are most active during the day, but they also feed at night. Typically solitary creatures, grasshoppers gather when mating or migrating to other areas for food. Populations increase exponentially during hot and dry weather, usually in summer. When this happens, some species change color and form large groups (swarms) known as locusts.
Usually green, gray, or brown, grasshoppers have strong hind legs for leaping up to an impressive 30 inches. Depending on the species, their length can vary between .5 an inch and 2.5 inches. Females are typically larger than males, with sharp ends on their abdomen for laying eggs.
All adult grasshoppers have large eyes, chewing mouthparts, a green or brown color, large black legs, wings, and short antennae. Baby grasshoppers are smaller, lack wings, and have a white color when freshly hatched.
Their sensory functions are attached to various external organs, including receptors on the legs, fine hairs on the entire body, antennae on the head, and tympanal appendages (cerci) on the belly.
Grasshoppers can eat almost 16 times their body weight in a single day. Left to its own devices, a large grasshopper population can devastate a vegetable garden in a matter of hours and cause significant damage to the surrounding ecosystem.
Some telltale signs of grasshopper presence/grasshopper damage include:
- Chirping sounds, a common grasshopper communication tool
- Chewed grass
- Gnawed plant leaves, with damage starting at the leaf edge and working inward
- Large missing leaf, vegetable, and fruit portions
- Holes in your shrubs
- Visual sighting
How to get rid of grasshoppers in your yard
If you’re a homeowner who likes spending time outdoors tending to your yard, you’re probably not on friendly terms with jumping grasshoppers. Take a closer look at these helpful ways to repel grasshoppers and enjoy spending time outdoors again.
Use natural pesticides
If a large grasshopper population is steadily decimating your garden, it’s time to take action. One DIY approach to preventing an infestation is to spray your plants or lawn with a natural pesticide. Try any of the following options for effective grasshopper control:
- Make a garlic spray by mixing minced garlic with water, bringing the mixture to a boil, and allowing it to sit overnight. Then, add one part mixture and three parts water to a spray bottle and apply it to the affected areas in your yard.
- Add flour to a salt shaker and dust it over your plants or lawn. When the flour comes into contact with grasshopper saliva, it forms a glue that seals the garden pests’ mouths.
- Spray a neem oil solution all over your yard in spring or early summer, when grasshopper nymphs are just hatching and vulnerable to insecticides. To make it, mix 1 teaspoon of neem oil with 2 cups of water and a drop of dish soap. The neem tree has been used to fight pest infestations for hundreds of years, but this method isn’t a guaranteed success and may work better for some gardeners than others.
- Prepare a blend of one part apple cider vinegar, three parts water, and 5 or 6 grams of soap granular flakes. Pour it into a sprayer and go to town in your yard.
Remember that these bugs are more resilient than you think, so avoid gentle approaches. Anything other than a direct attack will mean the annihilation of your yard.
Till your soil
To eliminate the likelihood of grasshopper eggs hatching all over your garden or lawn, till your soil in early spring, with a second round following in late summer to early fall. Soil tillage involves turning the soil to prepare it for seeding and checking for pests or diseases. For the grasshoppers, this means a disturbed life cycle. For you, it means fewer headaches and a cleaner yard.
Try commercial baits
Another grasshopper elimination technique is using biological, commercial baits. These are pellets that contain parasitic fungi such as nosema locustae and beauveria bassiana, known to kill grasshoppers. Spread them over problem areas and wait for the insects to ingest them. A considerable dent in grasshopper numbers should occur within 14 days.
Mow your lawn
Grasshoppers love hiding and laying eggs in tall grass, so mowing goes a long way in keeping your garden grasshopper-free. During the growing season, cut your grass once a week to have a pest-free, vibrant lawn that your neighbors will envy.
Follow the rule of thirds: Never cut off more than one-third of the blade’s length. For example, if the grass is 3 inches tall, don’t cut more than 1 inch. Mowing taller encourages a deep root system and helps shade out weeds. Mowing too low can scalp your lawn, making photosynthesis difficult.
Follow these recommended cutting heights for cool-season and warm-season grasses.
|Grass Name||Grass Type||Recommended Height|
|Tall fescue||Cool-season||3 – 3 ½ inches|
|Kentucky bluegrass||Cool-season||2 ½ – 3 inches|
|Perennial ryegrass||Cool-season||2 ½ inches|
|Bermudagrass||Warm-season||1 – ½ inches|
|Centipedegrass||Warm-season||1 – 2 inches|
|St. Augustinegrass||Warm-season||2 – 3 inches|
|Zoysiagrass||Warm-season||1 – 2 inches|
Keep up with weeding
Not only does weeding keep your garden growing healthy and vibrant, but it minimizes the risk of grasshoppers devastating your yard. Practice responsible lawn care, and you’ll see your grasshopper populations dwindling and disappearing.
Encourage natural grasshopper predators
An effective way to control grasshoppers is to foster an environment ideal for natural predators. To do this:
- Build nesting sites for birds such as cardinals, orioles, swallows, and guinea fowl. They like snacking on grasshoppers, which is why attracting them to your yard is a good idea. Birds require a clean water source and trellises for perching, so add them to your yard.
- Consider adding ponds or fountains to your yard to attract toads, frogs, praying mantises, and dragonflies.
- Add logs or rock cairns to your landscape and watch lizards, spiders, and beetles make an appearance. These creatures can help rid your yard of grasshopper nymphs hatching in spring and summer.
- Parasitic and paper wasps as well as robber flies naturally prey on grasshoppers. To keep these beneficial insects coming back to your yard, make plants such as coriander, dill, clover, mustard, phacelia, and cosmos available year-round. They’re an excellent pollen source for your helpful, winged friends.
Change your landscape
Grasshopper populations can successfully be reduced by introducing grasshopper-repellent plants and flowers to your garden. Grasshoppers hate the smell and taste of these plant varieties:
- Moss rose
Mix them with your vegetables and plants to disturb the habitat grasshoppers enjoy and hopefully keep them away.
Conversely, avoid planting crops grasshoppers find delicious. These may be:
Keep target plants covered
Certain plants may be more susceptible to grasshopper attacks than others. To create a protective barrier, cover them with plastic sheets or floating row covers. Combine this with any of the other techniques for eliminating grasshoppers, and your garden will thank you for it.
FAQ about getting rid of grasshoppers in your yard
How do grasshoppers communicate?
Like many other species on earth, grasshoppers communicate through touch, scent, sight, and sound. During mating season, some male grasshoppers will rub their wings on their legs to attract females.
What do grasshoppers eat?
Grasshoppers are herbivores, meaning they eat grass, leaves, stems, flowers, seeds, and plants. They may sometimes turn to dead insects for protein.
What differences exist between grasshoppers and crickets?
While grasshoppers are mostly active during the day, crickets like the dark. Grasshoppers can be identified by their cylindrical body shape and short antennae, whereas crickets come in many different shapes and sizes, with long antennae.
Don’t let grasshoppers take over your yard
With grasshoppers at work, your yard can become a wasteland in no time flat. To keep this from happening to you, hire a local pest management pro to inspect your property and nip your grasshopper problem in the bud. Instead of worrying about the next steps, let experts on the matter give you the peace of mind you deserve.