Grasshoppers often wreak havoc on gardens and lawns, eating flowers, produce, shrub leaves, and even tree leaves . Some people use pesticides to control grasshoppers, but you should know that there are several natural alternatives to controlling the grasshopper population on your property.
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Grasshoppers tend to prefer soft, leafy plants, which makes vegetable gardens especially vulnerable. If you want to grow leafy vegetables, try planting varieties that mature early in the growing season, before the grasshoppers are out in droves.
Birds prey on grasshoppers, so encouraging birds to frequent your property may help you control the grasshopper population nearby. You can encourage birds to visit your yard or garden by planting shrubs with berries, establishing birdhouses, and installing a birdbath or two.
While encouraging grasshoppers' natural predators seems like a logical solution to a grasshopper problem, the USDA warns that this method takes careful planning, and even then, may not be very effective. In order to utilize predators like birds to control grasshoppers, the predators' safety must be ensured, there must be many predators around, and you may have to invest a significant amount of time or money making sure they stay on your property. If you are a bird enthusiast, this method may be for you, but if you're not ready to expend effort nurturing birds on your property, you may want to try a different method.
There are some organic pesticides on the market that contain spores of Nosema locustae, a naturally-occurring grasshopper disease. You simply spread the bait anywhere you notice grasshopper damage and wait. The disease that the bait contains is sometimes slow acting, but it has about a 50 percent mortality rate. However, once the disease begins to kill the grasshoppers, it will spread fairly quickly, because grasshoppers are cannibalistic and will eat their dead. This will spread the disease to grasshoppers that didn't eat the bait. An added effect of the bait is that it causes a reduced number of hatched grasshoppers the year after you apply it.
If you're worried about this bait's safety, you should carefully read the label. Many organic grasshopper baits are safe for people, animals, birds and the environment; they will only harm grasshoppers.