There are many species of grasshoppers around the world. Over twenty thousand have been identified and over one thousand exist in the United States alone. Grasshoppers are strong jumpers and they can fly. Though they don’t bite intentionally, they have been known to “chew” a person or two during migration or prolonged contact. Grasshoppers are strong insects with a body well protected and sight which enables them to identify predators from afar. Closely related to crickets, these ferocious and crop damaging pests know how to “sing” and “chirp”. This article will detail some basic biology of grasshoppers, list why they are a pest and then offer solutions on how to keep them away from your gardens and plants.
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Grasshoppers are known around the world. They are great jumpers and most species can fly as well. They have a tough outerskin which affords them great protection. Pygmy grasshoppers are the least important. They are small with thin bodies which has a dorsal shield completely protecting it. Though they do some damage, Pygmy grasshoppers are thought to have the lease amount of impact. Longhorned grasshoppers are much larger and have antennae which extends beyond the end of their body when folded back. Katydids, Cone-headed Grasshoppers and Meadow Grasshoppers are all members of this family. Long horned grasshoppers do a lot of damage every year; the Mormon Grasshopper was a meadow grasshopper which was responsible for so much damage which early settlers endured while farming Utah. The shorthorned grasshopper is by far the most common of all species and has short antennae. This species includes the Spur-throated grasshopper which is able to molt and migrate when local food supplies are not sufficient. These are the true “locusts” which will leave in late summer/early fall in search of food. They will fly miles and miles when local food is scarce or if they reproduced too much for local conditions to support. Slant faced crickets and Band-Winged grasshoppers are also in the shorthorned species.
Grasshoppers vary in color. This will depend largely on local environments. Dry arid environments tend to produce more species which are tan to brown in color. Moist, succulent terrain will have more green grasshoppers. However, many species will start a season green and turn brown as the summer lags on into fall. Most grasshoppers are great songsters. Males will use sound during courtship and so distinctive is their voice that many people are able to identify species by their song! Shorthorned species are only able to sing by rubbing various body parts together so they are really only able to “chirp”. However, both females and males will use sound throughout the year. It is believed their song is used to communicate food locations, mating seasons and the general state of local populations. Grasshoppers have well developed ears which enable their sound to find the right target from great distances. It is clear their use of sound keeps them close together which is essential for species development and survival.
Most grasshoppers will die out by winter and start from eggs the following year. Pygmy grasshoppers are one of the only species which overwinters and emerges as adults in the spring. What little damage they do is mostly noted at the beginning of the growing season. Most other species will emerge as nymphs in the spring looking like adults but lacking the ability to fly. As they molt through the summer they will reach adulthood late in the season. Once they mate, females will use their ovipositors to lay eggs in plants or the ground, depending on the species. This egg laying process causes great damage to plants. Eggs will then lie dormant through the winter and young will emerge at the beginning of the new growing season the following year.
Grasshoppers are worst known for the damage they do while eating. They have strong chewing mouth parts along with ferocious appetites. Grasshoppers have been known to clear acres of crops, wild terrain and urban landscaping. At times they appear to eat whatever is in their path. This is particularly true when short horned species change over to locusts and migrate. Generally caused by overpopulation or lack of food, locusts are strong flyers and capable of causing uncontrollable damage. There is a certain feeling of helplessness many farmers have felt when they see the great bands of locusts descending upon their crops. Locusts act quickly and will sometimes eat entire plants; other times they ravish randomly. Small local populations are easy to control; large migrating locusts are difficult to stop but preventative steps can be taken to minimize loss.
The key to successful grasshopper control is the timing of treatments. The timing of your treatments is dependent on which type of grasshopper problem you are experiencing. If you are an avid gardener which experiences grasshopper damage and activity every year, you have a local population which needs to be eliminated. If you are in a region which generally has very little activity but migrating locusts find their way to your property, immediate action is needed to minimize damage and followup treatments recommended to prevent population establishments. The time of the year will dictate what you need to do and which products to use.
GRASSHOPPER CONTROL GRANULES
In the late winter and early spring which will be around February to April in most parts of the United States, you need to apply some BIFEN GRANULES to your turf. These slow releasing granules will kill off young nymph grasshoppers as they emerge from their eggs. Gardeners and property owners who have had an ongoing problem with grasshoppers need to make special note of this time; by treating early you will successfully break the cycle which is having a negative impact on your plants and landscape. Bifen is easy to apply and can be spread with a HAND SPREADER to get proper distribution and coverage. If you are in a dry spell or generally arid part of the country, water them in following application. The granules will release into the ground providing control of many turf pests which emerge in the spring.
As the spring turns into summer, watch local grasshopper activity. If you treated in the spring, you should see a decrease in seasonal activity. The Bifen should have prevented most of the emerging nymphs to die off. If you begin to notice increasing populations by June or July, it is possible new grasshoppers are emerging and developing from other places besides your turf; some species lay their eggs on plants, above ground, and spraying the adults during the summer and fall is the only way to break the cycle. Make sure to watch local grasshopper populations as well. If local media and farm reports are talking about migrating locusts, get ready to do some treating.
GRASSHOPPER CONTROL SPRAY
By spraying your plants before they arrive you will head off a lot of damage. Grasshoppers may like to eat but they don’t like the taste of certain products. Treat ahead of their arrival with BIFEN XTS. Bifen is odorless and will effectively keep feeding grasshoppers at bay. Expect to see some land on treated plants but they will die before they are able to cause significant damage. Apply the Bifen with a SPRAYER if you have a small area to treat. Use a HOSE END SPRAYER if you have a lot of turf, plants or shrubs to protect.
Pump Sprayer: http://www.bugspraycart.com/good/pump-sprayers
If you already have activity, use the Bifen to kill current grasshoppers. However, their protective design makes it hard to kill them quickly. In order to get faster results, add some SPREADER STICKER to your tank mix. Spreader Sticker will enable the Bifen to penetrate the grasshoppers quickly resulting in better product performance.
Spreader Sticker: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/additive/spreader-sticker
Treatments may only be needed every week or two but if you are experiencing a massive onslaught of grasshoppers, don’t be afraid to treat every few days until the initial wave subsides. Once activity slows, expect to find some damage but most importantly, be sure there are none around able to lay eggs and get established. Do this by closely watching what happens following your treatments. If activity stops, you may not need to treat anymore. If you still find new ones through the rest of the summer and into the fall, continue to spray.
GRASSHOPPER GARDEN SAFE SPRAY
For the garden, we have two products that work well for grasshoppers. The first is CYONARA RTS. Labeled for use on fruit and vegetable bearing plants, Cyonara is odorless, covers a large area and is highly active on grasshoppers. Treat as often as is necessary which is usually a couple of times a week when invasions begin.
ORGANIC GRASSHOPPER SPRAY
For organic gardeners, the only concentrate we’ve seen that’s strong enough to kill grasshoppers effectively is MULTIPURPOSE INSECT KILLER. Labeled for use on fruit and vegetable plants, it has just 1 day to harvest so you can safely use it right up to when you’re about to pick fruit or veggies.
Organic Insect Killer: http://www.bugspraycart.com/organic/liquid/multi-purpose-insect-killer-24-oz
Pump Sprayer: http://www.bugspraycart.com/good/pump-sprayers
Once the late summer turns to fall, generally August through December, your spraying will keep local activity in check. This will do a great job of preventing successful egg laying or population establishment. In most cases, the spraying will knock out all activity. However, large populations will leave your turf vulnerable. If you find spraying is killing off most activity but some grasshoppers are still finding their way onto your property, treat with the Bifen Granules. These granules will kill off these last adults as they land in turf trying to lay eggs. A late season treatment will insure you don’t have to contend with them next year.
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