Grasshoppers are one of the most damaging pests in some bad years. They are between 2.5-6cm long and various colours.Â
Grasshoppers (top left & right)-University of Wyoming, Grasshopper (bottom)-Texas A&M University
They are the order orthoptera and there are hundreds of different species. Their larvae look the same as adults only considerably smaller. Their eggs are white to greyish coloured and laid in pods cemented together by dirt and debris. They can fly great distances and cover a vast amount of territory.
Eggs & Pods-University of Wyoming
Habitat and Lifecycle
They occur all over the world and are especially pest to farmers. Outbreak years occur after several years of hot dry summers and very warm autumns. This gives females a chance to lay as many as 400 eggs in a single season. They overwinter in the soil in protected pods that are resistant to most weather conditions. In the early spring the larvae hatch and begin to feed. Mating occurs in the summer and feeding lasts as long as weather conditions are favourable. Usually there is only one generation per year even tho peak years it feels like more.
Damage on corn-Marlin E. Rice
Diet and Damage
They attack every crop, veggie, weed, ornamental and trees. Nothing can resist them in a peak years. They eat notched holes in the leaves of anything they come accross. They will defoliate plants in no time. Some species prefer certain plants but in a grasshopper ridden area nothing is safe from them.
1) Hand Pick
Most of the time capturing the adults is impossible but in the fall when you till your soil, pick out the egg pods and destroy them. Stomp method works well too.
Chickens, turkeys, larks, kestrels, starlings, lacewings, blister beetles, praying mantids, robber flies and bee flies.
3) Sticky traps
Sometimes applying tanglefoot to pinwheels and placing them near plants that are being attacked will catch the nymphs.
4) Row Covers or Screens
Place row covers or screens over plants that are being attacked, this will only work to keep them out.
5) Keep weed population down
Take all the weeds down around the perimeter of your garden to discourage egg laying.
6) Nolo Bait
Nolo baits is a trade name for the disease nosema locustae. It is usually mixed with wheat bran and spread about. It is not harmful to anything but grasshoppers. It will kill the nymphs and adults produce less eggs.
There is a special nematode on the market, mermis nigrescens, that is fairly reliable for nymphs.
There is a naturally occurring fungus that kills adults, antomophthora grylli