If you’ve ever had a garden wrecked by grasshoppers, you know they aren’t as innocent as they seem. Grasshoppers will eat your flowers, plants, crops, and everything in between. So, how do you stop them before they start?
Grasshoppers smell through their antennae and seek out places for food and shelter. The strong scents of garlic, rosemary, peppermint oil, thyme, basil, cayenne pepper, onion, clove oil, and cilantro all can deter grasshoppers from yard by masking the smell of food and shelter that attracts them.
But how can you successfully use these scents to deter grasshoppers from your garden? Read on to learn some of the main scents that grasshoppers hate!
Why Do You Need To Repel Grasshoppers?
Grasshoppers can be found in almost all climates, including tropical forests, grasslands, jungles, mountains, savannahs, and deserts. The insects belong to the suborder of insects called Caelifera and date back about 250 million years ago. And yes, they’re found throughout the United States as well!
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), some grasshoppers can live in water and lay their eggs on the stems of water plants.
There are more than 30,000 species of grasshoppers and most prefer open dry habitats with plenty of grass, which is why we want to keep your weeds at a minimum if you are trying to deter grasshoppers.
Grasshoppers have sturdy wings allowing them to take flight. While there are some flightless species of grasshoppers, the majority can fly right into your garden. If they weren’t born there first, of course.
So, with all that, you probably have grasshoppers somewhere near you.
Grasshoppers go through three stages of development: egg, nymph, and adult. If many eggs hatch simultaneously in your garden, your produce will become their buffet.
In addition, grasshoppers have been around since before the dinosaurs so the insect is nothing new to the environment.
You’ve likely noticed a grasshopper infestation if you have partially chewed up leaves throughout your garden. Unfortunately, grasshoppers can sometimes be hard to control because they move fast.
Grasshoppers lay their eggs right below the soil’s surface in pod-like structures. Each pod potentially holds anywhere between 20 to 120 eggs. If all the eggs make it to the nymph stage, that could be bad news for your plants.
Grasshoppers Can Destroy Your Garden
A handful of grasshoppers doesn’t cause a problem; however, a large amount can eat away at your crops. While they aren’t attracted to everything you have planted, they enjoy eating fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
According to the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, grasshoppers cause significant damage during outbreaks, especially after several scorching summers. In addition, dry weather increases the survival rate of nymphs and adults.
Adult grasshoppers range from 1 to 7 cm in length (generally) and have two chewing mouthparts, making it easy to eat right through your prized plants.
Grasshoppers Can Damage Entire Fields
While grasshoppers can chew away the leaves in your garden, they can also destroy whole crop fields.
Grasshoppers can eat half their body weight in one day, so if an outbreak has occurred on your farm, they have the potential to damage everything you’ve grown.
Grasshoppers are known to damage corn, small grains, potatoes, fruit trees, lettuce, and sugarbeets.
Unfortunately, if you’ve previously struggled with grasshoppers, your fields are more prone to an infestation. Taking preventative steps like applying pesticides and keeping a clean field will help reduce the risk of future infestations.
According to the University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources, the most destructive grasshoppers are the valley grasshopper (Oedaleonotus enigma) and the devastating grasshopper (Melanoplus devastator), which is very appropriately named.
Deter Grasshoppers With These 9 Scents
Generally, scents confuse insects by blocking potential food and shelter. Unfortunately, the scents don’t exterminate the grasshoppers; it just makes the location less ideal for laying eggs and finding food.
However, natural scents are a fantastic alternative to pesticides if you are trying to limit what comes in contact with your crops.
Since sprinkling or spraying scents isn’t permanent, you want to ensure you reapply after a heavy rain.
Finally, sometimes you have to experiment to see which scent works best for the grasshoppers coming into your yard.
If you’ve ever cooked with garlic, you know how pungent the smell can be. So while we like to add it to food, grasshoppers would instead steer clear.
Grasshoppers don’t like the taste or smell of garlic, making it an excellent deterrent. Garlic is also safe to use around plants, so you don’t have to worry about destroying your garden.
The best way to use garlic to deter grasshoppers is to make a spray. First, crush 6-7 cloves of garlic and put it in a dish. Next, boil water, pour the hot water over the garlic, and let the solution sit overnight before adding it to a spray bottle.
For an extra kick, add some red pepper flakes to the spray. It’s like a one-two punch for grasshoppers!
As a tip: strain the water to prevent chunks of garlic from making their way into the squirt bottle. You can make a stronger concentration by adding more garlic or reducing the water added.
Finally, ensure you spray the stems of plants where grasshoppers often lay eggs. Since the spray won’t stay long-term, make sure you apply the garlic spray every few days or after heavy rain.
Rosemary has a powerful odor, making it ideal for keeping grasshoppers away. The popular herb does well in hot climates, so it does well even in the summertime.
You can plant rosemary as a border around your garden or use the oil and spray around your plants. It’s beneficial to plant rosemary, so you don’t have to reapply the spray often. In addition, you will have fresh herbs for your favorite recipes!
If you aren’t committed to planting rosemary, you can plant it in a pot and move it around as needed. Rosemary also helps keep flies, deer and mosquitoes away, so your backyard will be pest-free in no time!
It doesn’t have to be the holiday season to bring out the peppermint. Peppermint oil is fantastic at keeping grasshoppers from ruining any celebration.
Essential oils prevent a pest infestation because they are a cheap and homemade way to naturally use around your garden. While peppermint isn’t the strongest scent, it confuses grasshoppers by disguising the smell of pheromones.
You can spray diluted peppermint oil directly on your plants or any spot with evidence of grasshoppers. You want to ensure you reapply every 3-5 days or until you no longer have an issue.
Thyme is an easy herb to grow and can help prevent grasshoppers from feasting in your garden. The popular cooking herb has a musty scent.
Thyme is not pleasant to grasshoppers, forcing them to find another place to stop. You can either plant the herb or use various potted thyme and place them around the perimeter of your garden.
Pro tip: bruise the thyme leaves to release its chemicals which will help repel grasshoppers.
Finally, you can also use thyme oil and put drops around the base of your plants. Since the oil can wash away, ensure you reapply after rainfall!
Basil is another excellent herb to deter grasshoppers from eating away at your garden.
You can use basil in two ways to repel grasshoppers. First, plant basil around your garden and reap the benefits of the fresh herb.
As a bonus, you’ll have fresh basil! There’s nothing like sprinkling some basil on your pizza.
Cayenne Pepper can be sprinkled or sprayed around your plants. Grasshoppers do not like the hot pepper because of its high level of capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers.
You can either use powdered cayenne or full cayenne peppers. If using powder, add two tablespoons to one gallon of water and shake until thoroughly mixed.
If you have fresh peppers, add them to a blender with a half to a full gallon of water and a teaspoon of dish soap. You can choose how much water you add based on how strong you want the solution. Finally, blend the mixture until smooth and add to a squirt bottle.
Finally, don’t forget to wear gloves while handling peppers and avoid touching your eyes before washing your hands.
Onions are another excellent way to keep grasshoppers away. Grasshoppers hate the smell of onions. (In their defense, who does?)
First, blend one sliced-up onion, some garlic, and four cups of water. Once the mixture is smooth, add it to a spray bottle.
You can now spray the solution in and around your plants and everywhere you’ve spotted grasshoppers. If you are in a pinch, you can use onion powder as an alternative.
Finally, for a stronger scent, add garlic to the onion solution. You’ll be warding off grasshoppers and vampires in no time!
Clove oil is found in cosmetics and confections, but did you know you can use it to keep grasshoppers away?
You can spray clove oil in all areas where you suspect grasshoppers. Clove oil works well at deterring other pests, so you’ll notice a bug-free garden!
Clove oil has a woody smell that grasshoppers hate. The essential oil is easy to find and is fairly inexpensive, making it an excellent deterrent.
Cilantro is one of those herbs you either love or hate. For grasshoppers, it’s huge hate. The pungent smell is not appealing to the insects.
You can plant cilantro around the border of your garden or in pots covering the perimeter.
Keep in mind that cilantro grows fast and can easily take over a garden, so you want to ensure you keep it orderly to avoid unnecessary weeds.
With herbs, the scent mainly comes from the inside of the plant. So it make help to break open part of the herb once in a while or make a homemade spray with them.
Keeping Grasshoppers Away Long-Term
While using one of the 9 scents grasshoppers hate is great for short-term issues, you want to address the reason why the pesky insects are finding their way into your garden. In addition, buying certain oils and scents can be pricey after a while.
Following a few simple tips will help prevent repeat infestations. As mentioned, once you have an infestation, there is a greater chance grasshoppers will come back the following year.
It’s vital to not just put a bandaid on the problem, but fix the reason it keeps happening. Here are a few preventative measures to say adios to the grasshoppers once and for all.
Remove Weeds And Other Debris
An overgrown yard gives plenty of hiding places for grasshoppers to live and lay eggs. Grasshoppers particularly like tall grass, so you must mow regularly.
Staying on top of lawn care prevents most pests, so removing any weeds and unnecessary debris, including wood piles is recommended. Grasshoppers can easily hide in between wood, leaving you unaware they are around.
Finally, a kept yard will ward off a plethora of pests, so it’s highly recommended to keep your yard orderly.
Use Pesticides To Repel Grasshoppers
While pesticides aren’t always an ideal solution, they are effective at keeping grasshoppers away.
Diatomaceous Earth is a popular repellent for ridding your garden of most pests, including grasshoppers. The powder is sprinkled directly on the areas where you have seen grasshoppers.
The highly effective repellent starts working immediately and will help eliminate the problem within days. In addition, it does not have adverse reactions to humans or the environment if applied correctly.
Dust Your Garden With Flour
If you are looking for a non-pesticide route to keeping away grasshoppers, dust your garden with flour. The household item gums up and blocks a grasshopper’s mouth when ingested.
Since grasshoppers eat a lot during the day, they likely will take in a lot of flour over a day.
You want to ensure you use all-purpose flour since others, including self-rising, contain salt, that can adversely affect your yard.
Plant Undesirable Flowers And Vegetables
Some flowers that grasshoppers do not like include crepe myrtle, lilac, juniper, and sage. However, while they might be undesirable to grasshoppers, you will thoroughly enjoy them in your yard.
In addition, grasshoppers do not like peas, tomatoes, or squash. So, you at least won’t have to worry about them on those plants!
Add Chickens To Your Yard
This one won’t work for everyone, but chickens are great at keeping the grasshopper population down. (They also love ticks!) You might even get some fresh eggs from them!
Since not every house can have chickens, you can count on the neighborhood birds. So while you can’t ask the birds to come, you can make your backyard more appealing to them.
Consider adding places for birds to rest, like a bird bath, so they can find the grasshoppers in your yard. You can add bird feeders, but they might be too distracted to notice the grasshoppers.
The VIVOHOME Bird Bath is simple yet effective at attracting birds. The antique-looking bath adds attractive decor to your yard while encouraging birds to have a rest and potentially feast on grasshoppers
The bird bath is durable and sturdy, so you don’t have to worry about damage in an afternoon thunderstorm!
Contact A Professional For Additional Options
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we can’t get rid of a pest problem alone. Instead of spending unnecessary money on potential tactics, contact a pest professional.
While grasshoppers don’t usually become an indoor problem, it is still something you want to take care of if you want to save your garden.
A skilled professional can give tips on why you can’t get rid of grasshoppers or why they keep coming back. Sometimes, it takes the point of view of a professional to see the root of the issue.
In addition, a professional can identify if the problem is grasshoppers or if you have another pest snacking on your plants. Unfortunately, unless you witness the insect, chewed-up leaves can be an indicator of many other bugs or critters.
That’s A Wrap!
Well, that’s a wrap on the nine scents that grasshoppers hate and the best ways to use them. Now you can feel confident tackling the grasshoppers that have invaded your garden.
Now, for a quick recap.
Here are the best 9 scents to keep grasshoppers away:
- Peppermint Oil
- Cayenne Pepper
- Clove Oil
A few grasshoppers don’t pose a huge problem, but they move fast and reproduce quickly, so it’s vital to help prevent an infestation. Like any pest problem, if the issue seems out of your control, it’s time to contact a professional who can better assess the situation.
Happy grasshopper repelling!
Kuitert, L. C., and R. V. Connin. “Biology of the American grasshopper in the southeastern United States.” The Florida Entomologist 35.1 (1952): 22-33.
Otte, Daniel. The North American Grasshoppers: Acrididae: Oedipodinae. Vol. 2. Harvard University Press, 1981.
Region, Western. “Grasshopper control.” (1973).
Song, Hojun. “Grasshopper systematics: past, present and future.” Journal of Orthoptera Research (2010): 57-68.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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