Grasshopper Control in Gardens and Small Acreages - 5.536 (2023)

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by W.S. Cranshaw and R. Hammon* (1/13)

Quick Facts…

  • Grasshoppers are the most difficult insect to control because they are highly mobile.
  • All grasshoppers lay their eggs in soil.
  • There are over 100 species of grasshoppers in Colorado.
  • During periods when local outbreaks are developing, control usually involves using sprays or baits.

Grasshoppers can be the most noticeable and damaging insects to yards and fields. They also are among those most difficult to control, since they are highly mobile. For many reasons, grasshopper populations fluctuate greatly from year to year, and may cause serious damage during periodic outbreaks. Problems tend to increase beginning in early summer and can persist until hard frosts.

Over 100 species of grasshoppers occur in Colorado and their food habits vary. Some primarily feed on grasses or sedges, while others prefer broadleaved plants. Other grasshoppers restrict their feeding to plants of no great economic value and a few even feed primarily on weed species (e.g., snakeweed). However, others will readily feed on garden and landscape plants (Table 1).

Among vegetable crops certain plants are favored, such as lettuce, carrots, beans, sweet corn, and onions. Squash, peas, and tomatoes (leaves, not fruit) are among the plants that tend to be avoided.

Grasshoppers less commonly feed on leaves of trees and shrubs. However, during outbreak years even these may be damaged. Furthermore, grasshoppers may incidentally damage shelterbelt plantings when they rest on twigs and gnaw on bark, sometimes causing small branches to die back.

Grasshopper Control in Gardens and Small Acreages - 5.536 (1)Figure 1. Differential grasshopper.Grasshopper Control in Gardens and Small Acreages - 5.536 (2)Figure 2. Migratory grasshopper.
Grasshopper Control in Gardens and Small Acreages - 5.536 (3)Figure 3. Twostriped grasshopper.Grasshopper Control in Gardens and Small Acreages - 5.536 (4)Figure 4. Redlegged grasshopper.

Grasshopper Control in Gardens and Small Acreages - 5.536 (5)Figure 5. Clearwinged grasshopper.

Grasshopper Life History

All grasshoppers lay their eggs in soil, in the form of tight clustered pods. Relatively dry soils, undisturbed by tillage or irrigations, are preferred. Egg laying may be concentrated at certain sites with favorable soil texture, slope, and orientation, producing ‘egg beds.’

The egg stage is the overwintering stage of most, but not all, grasshoppers. For the majority of species the eggs hatch in mid- to late-spring, varying with soil temperatures. At egg hatch the tiny first stage nymphs move to the surface and seek tender foliage on which to feed. The first few days are critical to survival. Adverse weather or absence of suitable foods can cause high mortality. Surviving grasshoppers continue to develop over the next several weeks, usually molting through five or six stages, before ultimately reaching the adult form.

Adult grasshoppers may live for months, interspersing feeding with mating and egg laying. Species that winter in the egg stage die out in late summer and early fall. A few species, perhaps most conspicuously the speckledwinged grasshopper, spend winter as a nymph, remain active during warm periods, and may develop to the adult form by late winter.

Grasshopper Control in Gardens and Small Acreages - 5.536 (6)Figure 6. Grasshopper egg bed.

Grasshopper Control

Natural Controls

The most important factors are weather related, particularly around the time of egg hatch. For example, cold, wet weather is very destructive to newly hatched grasshoppers. However, very dry winter and spring conditions also can be harmful to survival since required tender new plant growth is not available.

Some insects commonly feed on grasshoppers. Many species of blister beetles (see fact sheet 5.524, Blister Beetles in Forage Crops) develop on grasshopper egg pods and blister beetle abundance cycles along with their grasshopper hosts. Adult robber flies are common predators of grasshoppers during summer and other flies develop as internal parasites of grasshoppers. Many birds, notably horned larks and kestrals, feed heavily on grasshoppers. Grasshoppers are also frequently eaten by coyotes.

Grasshoppers are also subject to some unusual diseases. A fungus (Entomophthora grylli) infects grasshoppers causing them to move upwards and cling to plants shortly before they kill the insect host. Stiff, dead grasshoppers found stuck to a grass stem or twig indicate infection with this disease. A very large nematode (Mermis nigriscens) also sometimes develops in grasshoppers. Both the fungus disease and nematode parasite are favored by wet weather.

Table 1. Primary grasshoppers that damage gardens
and small acreage pasture areas in Colorado
Common NameScientific NameComments
Differential grasshopperMelanoplus differentialisOften one of the first grasshoppers found moving into
gardens and one of the largest in the genus Melanoplus.
Migratory grasshopperMelanoplus sanguinipesOften the most damaging species to croplands. Any early
hatching species and capable of long migration flight.
Twostriped grasshopperMelanoplus bivittatusOften the most common species damaging gardens, it migrates
from empty lots, roadsides, and other undisturbed sites. It often
hatches in late spring, a few weeks later than many grasshoppers.
Redlegged grasshopperMelanoplus femurrubrumA widely distributed grasshopper that feeds on many
garden plants. It tends to be most abundant in moist sites and is
one of the later hatching species.
Clearwinged grasshopperCamnula pellucidaThe primary species present in recent outbreaks reported
in areas of the West Slope and around Steamboat Springs. An early
hatching grasshopper that restricts feeding to grasses.

Managing Grasshoppers with Baits and Sprays

During periods when a local outbreak develops, control usually involves using sprays or baits. To be successful these need to be applied to developing stages of grasshoppers and concentrated at sites where egg laying occurs. Ability to control grasshoppers declines as grasshoppers develop and migrate.

Surveys of grasshoppers can be very useful in anticipating problems and treating appropriately. Numbers of grasshoppers present in late summer and early fall can be a good indicator of problems the subsequent year. Follow-up surveys the following spring to detect young nymphs can determine when eggs have hatched. Area-wide surveys may locate egg beds and other sites where early season activity originates.

Treatments should be directed at the young grasshoppers and nearby vegetation present in these breeding sites. At lower altitudes, this often occurs in May; early June may be the optimal time for grasshoppers at higher elevations. Sprays of insecticides are most effective at this time and several insecticides are effective (Table 2). Insecticide options are greater for larger acreages and unit costs are less expensive. The addition of canola oil to insecticide sprays can improve control by making treated foliage more attractive to feeding grasshoppers.

Alternately, baits containing carbaryl (Sevin) can be broadcast. Bait formulations are made by mixing the insecticide with bran or some other carrier and kill grasshoppers that feed on the bait. These treatments limit application effects on other insects present in the treated area. However, availability of Sevin baits is frequently limited, or prohibitively priced for use on large areas. Baits must be reapplied after rain.

Insecticide treatments do not need to completely cover the area since grasshoppers are mobile. Insecticides applied as bands covering 50 percent of the area, or even less, have proved very effective for control of grasshoppers in rangelands. Backpack sprayers and application equipment modified for use on ATVs can be used in larger acreages. A review of this method, known as Reduced Area Acreage Treatments (RAATS) has been prepared by the University of Wyoming at: www.sdvc.uwyo.edu/grasshopper/atvraats.htm

Where grasshoppers develop over large areas and impact several properties, coordinated area-wide control is very useful. As this requires some additional preparations in planning, early surveys are even more important. Grasshopper control often is much more successful as a community effort.

Once grasshoppers have reached the adult stage and migrations occur, some insecticides may be applied directly to plants. Such applications have only short effectiveness and damage can occur before individual grasshoppers are killed. Furthermore, the choice of insecticides is more limited since few allow direct application to garden fruit and vegetables.

Table 2: Insecticides used to control grasshoppers.
Common NameTrade Name(s)Labeled Uses, Comments
carbarylSevinMost formulations allow use on a wide variety of fruits and vegetables
(1-14 day preharvest interval). Available for use as sprays, dust
and in baits.
acephateOrtheneHas systemic activity in plants and may persist longer than most
other insecticides. Uses are limited to non-edible crops.
permethrinMany trade names.Widely available for garden use and most formulations allow use
on a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Fairly short persistence
of effect for grasshopper control.
diflubenzuronDimilinGrowth regulator that affects chitin formation as grasshopper nymphs
molt. Effective only on immature insects but has long residual activity.
Restricted Use insecticide. Most use will be by licensed pesticide
applicators on pastures.
Nosema locustaeNOLO Bait, SemasporeA biological control that produces infection from a
protozoan. It is relatively slow acting and only effective against
young grasshoppers. Use allowed in Certified Organic crop production.

Nosema locustae Baits

Baits containing the protozoan Nosema locustae is a biological control option that may be considered for treating grasshopper breeding sites. This is sold under the trade names NOLO Bait or Semaspore and can produce infection of many species of grasshoppers. Because it is selective in effects, only affecting grasshoppers, its use is sometimes considered desirable.

There are some limitations to Nosema locustae baits. Only young grasshoppers are susceptible, and it can not be used effectively after adult migrations have occurred. It is also fairly slow acting and does not equally infect all grasshopper species. Often it is most effectively used in a long-term grasshopper management program, in combination with other controls.

Nosema locustae baits are also perishable. They are best kept refrigerated before use. Expiration dates are usually printed on packages and should be checked.

Some Interesting and Unusual Grasshoppers

Among the 100-odd species of Colorado grasshoppers are some that may attract attention because of unusual size, coloration or habit (Table 2). None of these are damaging to gardens and croplands because they do not develop outbreak populations or limit their feeding to plants that are not economically important.

Speckledwinged grasshopper (Arphia conspersa) – This is the grasshopper most commonly observed during warm days of winter and early spring. Eggs of the speckledwinged grasshopper hatch in mid-late summer and they spend winter as nymphs and, later, adults. The adults have colored hindwings, often with a yellow or reddish spot and in flight they make a crackling noise. They limit their feeding to grasses and sedges.

Grasshopper Control in Gardens and Small Acreages - 5.536 (7)Figure 7. Specklewinged grasshopper.Grasshopper Control in Gardens and Small Acreages - 5.536 (8)Figure 8. A mating pair of plains lubber grasshopper.

Plains lubber/Homesteader (Brachystola magna) – This is the largest grasshopper found in the region, an may exceed 3 to 4 grams in weight. It has stubby wings and it is flightless, but can be often seen in midsummer slowly hopping across rural roads in eastern Colorado. The body is colorful, with a mixture of green, pink and brown. The plains lubber will feed on many plants, but is most commonly associated with patches of sunflowers.

Grasshopper Control in Gardens and Small Acreages - 5.536 (9)Figure 9. Carolina grasshopper

Carolina grasshopper (Dissosteira carolina) – A grasshopper commonly disturbed to flight when walking along open areas of bare earth. The hindwings are dark with a light band along the edge and in when flying may hover and produce a faint audible noise. Overall color ranges are light greyish yellow to reddish brown and they often blend well with soil background. They feed on a variety of plants but rarely become abundant enough at a site to cause any serious damage.

Barber pole grasshopper/Pictured grasshopper (Dactylotum bicolor) – This is the most colorful grasshopper found in the state with markings of reddish orange, black and yellow. It occurs in areas of the eastern plains and adults are present in late summer. They feed on broadleaf plants, but usually only those of low forage value and it is not considered a pest species.

Grasshopper Control in Gardens and Small Acreages - 5.536 (10)Figure 10. Barber pole grasshopper, late stage nymph.

Greenstreaked grasshopper/Snakeweed grasshopper (Hesperotettix viridis) – A bright green, colorful grasshopper found throughout much of the state but most common on the eastern plains. It feeds on a limited number of plants, including many that are considered rangeland weeds (e.g., snakeweed, ragweed).

Red shanks (Xanthippus corallipes) – A large grasshopper active earlier in the year than most species. The body color is irregularly splotched and banded, allowing it to camouflage on bare soil. However, the hindwings are bright pink, orange or yellow. It is a grass feeder found in dry, prairie areas.

Spotted bird grasshopper/Lined bird grasshopper (Schistocerca alutacea) – A very long grasshopper (ca. 2-inch long) and strong flier. The lined bird, S. a. shoshone, is found along riverways and moist ravines where it feeds on various shrubs. The Great Plains/sandhills subspecies, S. a. lineata, is found in dry, shrubby areas with large weeds. Adults are present in late summer and early fall but are never very abundant.

Grasshopper Control in Gardens and Small Acreages - 5.536 (11)Figure 11. Mormon cricket female. (Photo courtesy John Capinera.)

Mormon cricket (Anabrus simplex) – This large insect is neither a cricket nor a true grasshopper, but a longhorned grasshopper (Tettigoniidae family), related to a katydid. It lives on the open sagebrush/grassland rangelands of the Colorado Plateau and Great Basin at elevations between 6,500 and 11,000 ft. It attracts attention because of periodic massive migrations of millions of individuals that may devour significant amounts of vegetation. Mormon crickets prefer broadleaf plants, but will also eat range grasses and many crop plants.

1 W.S. Cranshaw, Colorado State University Extension entomologist and professor, bioagricultural sciences and pest management; and R. Hammon, Extension entomology and agronomy agent, Mesa county. 4/96. Revised 1/13.

Colorado State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Colorado counties cooperating. CSU Extension programs are available to all without discrimination. No endorsement of products mentioned is intended nor is criticism implied of products not mentioned.

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FAQs

Does Pyganic work on grasshoppers? ›

Both Pyganic Gardening and AzaGuard are labelled for grasshopper control.

How do I stop grasshoppers eating my garden? ›

Dust your plants with flour: If grasshoppers are targeting plants in your garden, consider dusting the leaves and stems of those plants with all-purpose flour or kaolin clay, which will stick to the insects' mouthparts and render them unable to eat.

What can I use to kill grasshoppers in my garden? ›

Best Organic Grasshopper Control Products​
  1. Garlic Spray.
  2. Hot Pepper Wax.
  3. Neem Oil.
  4. Nolo Bait.
  5. Kaolin Clay.
  6. Diatomaceous Spray.
  7. Pesticidal Soaps.
18 May 2021

What is a natural predator to grasshoppers? ›

Other natural predators of grasshoppers are wasps, ground beetles, robber flies, coyotes and parasitoids such as hairworms, tachinid flies and flesh flies.

How do I get rid of little grasshoppers? ›

Here are our top suggestions for getting rid of grasshoppers and locusts using natural home remedies.
  1. Apply a Garlic Spray. Garlic odor may help deter grasshoppers and other common garden pests. ...
  2. Dust the Leaves with Flour. ...
  3. Introduce Natural Predators. ...
  4. Set up a Long Grass Trap. ...
  5. Raise Your Own Chickens or Guinea Fowls.
26 Feb 2018

How do you control grasshoppers? ›

Gardeners can apply a bait containing carbaryl* around the borders of their garden before grasshoppers arrive. If a grasshopper trap crop is being grown around the border of the garden, these plants can be baited or sprayed with carbaryl or other products to kill grasshoppers.

Does vinegar keep grasshoppers away? ›

How To Repel Grasshoppers With Vinegar In House? There are generally two ways that you can use vinegar to stop grasshoppers from taking over your garden or farm. The first method you can do is to use vinegar as a grasshopper trap and the second one is to use it as a contact spray.

Do marigolds repel grasshoppers? ›

Plant flowers, such as marigolds, calendula, sunflower, aster, alyssum, or dill nearby to attract beneficial insects such as robber flies. A few other garden predators, such as spiders and toads, will also help keep grasshoppers under control.

What causes grasshopper infestation? ›

Locusts and grasshoppers, insect cousins, are among the most feared pests. A plague of these insects can occur when conditions cause their populations to suddenly explode. Usually this happens under drought or very dry conditions, since their egg pods are vulnerable to fungus in wet soil.

What do farmers use to kill grasshoppers? ›

Baits. One option for grasshopper control is a bait formulation. Carbaryl-impregnated bran bait is available as a 2 percent or 5 percent formulation. This method can provide good control when applied just before winter wheat emergence, when crops are only a few inches tall, or in areas with short, dry vegetation.

How do you kill grasshoppers naturally? ›

You can crush 6 cloves of garlic and let it sit in 1/2 cup of mineral oil overnight. Add 5 cups of water to the mixture and strain it into a spray bottle for a strong spray. The oil will suffocate tiny bugs such as aphids and affect the grasshoppers in much the same way as they move from plant to plant.

How do you kill grasshoppers with vinegar? ›

Fill large plastic freezer bags a quarter of the way full with pure apple cider vinegar with 1 tbsp. of canola oil and place in the rows of the garden. This is an excellent trap for grasshoppers. Grasshoppers are drawn to the solution and drown in the vinegar.

What do farmers use to kill grasshoppers? ›

Baits. One option for grasshopper control is a bait formulation. Carbaryl-impregnated bran bait is available as a 2 percent or 5 percent formulation. This method can provide good control when applied just before winter wheat emergence, when crops are only a few inches tall, or in areas with short, dry vegetation.

What is the best way to get rid of grasshoppers? ›

Here are our top suggestions for getting rid of grasshoppers and locusts using natural home remedies.
  1. Apply a Garlic Spray. Garlic odor may help deter grasshoppers and other common garden pests. ...
  2. Dust the Leaves with Flour. ...
  3. Introduce Natural Predators. ...
  4. Set up a Long Grass Trap. ...
  5. Raise Your Own Chickens or Guinea Fowls.
26 Feb 2018

What's the best way to kill grasshoppers? ›

Boric acid sprinkled along the garden wall edges works well to get rid of grasshoppers as well as many other garden pests, including ants and aphids. It is effective in warding off adults and lacerates the spindly legs of other insects as well. While it is generally safe, be careful when using it around kids and pets.

What pesticides are used on grasshoppers? ›

Gardeners can apply a bait containing carbaryl* around the borders of their garden before grasshoppers arrive. If a grasshopper trap crop is being grown around the border of the garden, these plants can be baited or sprayed with carbaryl or other products to kill grasshoppers.

How do I get rid of grasshoppers in my garden naturally? ›

How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers Naturally
  1. Garlic Spray. Garlic is one of the cheapest home remedies to repel grasshoppers and keep locusts away from crops. ...
  2. Vinegar Spray. Another DIY natural spray repellent, vinegar makes this spray. ...
  3. Natural Predators. ...
  4. Grass Trap. ...
  5. Birds. ...
  6. Nolo Bait. ...
  7. Hot Pepper Spray. ...
  8. Soapy Water.

What time of day is best to spray for grasshoppers? ›

Spraying with insecticide is recommended just after sunrise because the hoppers are active during dry, sunny weather. Several control products are available with various modes of action. Lorsban 4E, Matador and grasshopper bait in a product such as Eco Bran are effective.

What is a natural predator to grasshoppers? ›

Other natural predators of grasshoppers are wasps, ground beetles, robber flies, coyotes and parasitoids such as hairworms, tachinid flies and flesh flies.

Will garlic spray hurt plants? ›

What are the benefits and the drawbacks? Garlic spray is organic, so it won't harm your plants or the environment. It's also much safer for people and pets than chemical sprays, unless one of your pets is a rabbit. Garlic spray is effective against many different pests, but it won't stop most burrowing pests.

How do you make garlic spray for grasshoppers? ›

Garlic spray is made up of four ingredients: garlic, mineral oil, dish soap and water.
  1. Add the 4 cloves of minced garlic to a tablespoon of mineral oil and let sit for 1 day.
  2. Strain out the minced garlic and add the oil and 1 teaspoon of dish soap to a pint of water.
10 Jul 2012

Are grasshoppers good for your garden? ›

So are grasshoppers good for the garden? Grasshoppers are generally not good for the garden. Grasshoppers often feed on many of the plants growing in the garden and are therefore considered pests.

Does vinegar keep grasshoppers away? ›

How To Repel Grasshoppers With Vinegar In House? There are generally two ways that you can use vinegar to stop grasshoppers from taking over your garden or farm. The first method you can do is to use vinegar as a grasshopper trap and the second one is to use it as a contact spray.

What causes grasshopper infestation? ›

Locusts and grasshoppers, insect cousins, are among the most feared pests. A plague of these insects can occur when conditions cause their populations to suddenly explode. Usually this happens under drought or very dry conditions, since their egg pods are vulnerable to fungus in wet soil.

How do I keep grasshoppers off my tomato plants? ›

Lay down floating row covers or use metal screening. Drape metal mesh netting over the tomato plants to help protect them from grasshoppers. If you use floating row covers, keep a watch on them because the grasshoppers can chew holes into the plastic.

How do you get rid of lubber grasshoppers naturally? ›

Nolo Bait is an organic biological insecticide camouflaged in yummy wheat bran. Sprinkle it around your garden, or wherever you've seen lubbers, and when the nymphs eat it, they die.

How long does grasshopper season last? ›

“Grasshoppers usually appear in late-April to May,” Hoelscher said. “They appear in cycles and we are just in the middle of the six- to seven-year cycle of grasshopper infestations.”

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