Belonging to the suborder Caelifera, grasshoppers are among what is probably the most ancient living group of chewing herbivorous insects. Dating back to the early Triassic period around 250 million years ago.
Although there are almost 9000 different species of grasshoppers, there are about 30 species of grasshoppers in North America that qualify as garden pests. These pests all have different features that set them apart from each other. Some are brightly colored while others are solid in coloring. You can see several different species of grasshoppers here.
Grasshoppers are most damaging in the center of the continent in a band extending from Minnesota and Montana in the North and Texas and New Mexico in the south. Although they can be found in warmer areas of the United States.
Although there are several species in the grasshopper family, all species and life stages look essentially the same: Long narrow bodies, with long angled back legs suited to jumping, and a head featuring large eyes and chewing mouthparts. Most grasshoppers overwinter as eggs in untilled soil and emerge as juvenile grasshoppers in the spring.
While the juvnile grasshopper is wingless and cannot fly the adult grasshoppers are winged and can fly a good distance. Grasshoppers tend to multiply rapidly. In peak seasons when the grasshopper population is at its highest, they can wipe out entire gardens and fields. They destroy plants by chewing them up.
Signs of feeding by young grasshoppers are jagged and tattered holes chewed in leaves and plants.
One strategy is to plant an attractive green border of tall grass or lush green plants around the perimeter of the garden. Use this to trap insects and divert them from vegetables and flowers. Maintain with plenty of water and don’t mow or you will send the grasshoppers right into your garden.
You can bait the grasshoppers with an insecticide containing carbaryl. Place along your trap crop to kill the grasshoppers.
Some western states, use the bait containing Protozoan Nosema Locustae, to kill the nymphs of migrating grasshoppers.
Keep in mind that some sprays used to control grasshoppers are very toxic to bees, natural enemies of grasshoppers. So, you will want to limit your use of insecticides and let the grasshoppers natural enemy-the bee-control them. Save the insecticides for heavy infestations where they might provide a significant level of control.
To find out what other insects and bugs are in your garden get the garden guide below.
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Grasshoppers can damage or wipe out your whole crop. So, controlling the grasshopper population is crucial to a healthy garden. Along with many other pest insects and bugs, you will want to keep them out of your garden. Following the steps above will give you a fighting chance when it comes to getting rid of grasshoppers
For information on other pest insects and bugs check out my post on Pest Insects and Bugs.