If you’ve noticed, as the heat from the summer sun ramps up, so do the number of grasshoppers around your yard and garden. If you haven’t noticed yet, you will now!
Grasshoppers are attracted to several plants that are more than likely already growing in your yard. They primarily feed off your crops, gardens, flowers, fruits, trees, shrubs, and almost anything lusciously green growing around your home.
During the warm summer months, grasshoppers will begin feeding in the morning and afternoon, so you’ll see them around your yard and garden more often, causing more damage to your healthy plants.
As long as the weather stays warm and dry, you’ll see the grasshoppers jumping high! Let’s get to stopping them.
Why You Don’t Want Grasshoppers In Your Yard
There are very few places in your yard that are safe from grasshoppers. You will find a grasshopper just about anywhere you see a healthy green plant.
According to a publication from Utah State University Cooperative Extension, Grasshoppers commonly lay their eggs in favorable soil conditions found along fence rows, in gardens, roadside ditches, empty acreage, and grassy pastures.
The eggs stay protected in the winter and emerge early in spring and during the summer. As they hatch, they feed off the surrounding plants.
Once those plants dry out and are mostly eaten, the adults move to the lusher growth found in your yard and garden, typically around the months of July and August.
That’s when the fun begins. Once the grasshoppers have made the jump from the pastures to your yard, your plants become their playground… and breeding ground… and cafeteria.
Grasshoppers prefer to feed off the young, green leaves of each plant. They start by chewing holes in the leaves and eating around the edges until eventually, they’ve devoured the entire leaf and then some. Sooner rather than later, you will have a completely defoliated plant.
The bad news is that they don’t just eat the leaves of your plants. They also find petals, buds, fruits, seeds, and even bark desirable to feed on.
Why Grasshoppers Are Around Your House
As if that’s not enough, grasshoppers will feed on your house if they cannot locate an adequate feeding spot.
It is not unknown for grasshoppers to chip away at the paint on your house, siding, and even window screens.
If your garden is close to your house and they’ve run out of forage around there to eat, it is more likely that they will make the jump to your house next.
This is only known to happen in the most severe cases of dry summer conditions where plants are struggling to hang on with little water. Since grasshoppers often only eat healthy plants, drought will bring them to the side of your home instead.
What Determines A grasshopper Infestation in The First Place?
Usually, where you find one grasshopper, you will find more. Grasshoppers will live among several other species of grasshoppers in any given space or yard, competing for the same food sources. This allows the grasshopper population around your home to grow quickly in numbers.
The number of adult grasshoppers found per square yard can determine a grasshopper infestation. By rule of thumb, if there are more than eight grasshoppers per square yard, you most likely have an infestation on your hands.
That’s certainly not good news for the garden.
In fact, according to the Yearbook of Agriculture, it only takes seven grasshoppers in one square yard to eat as much forage as a cow.
Seeing that many grasshoppers in a small area isn’t uncommon. If you have encountered at least seven grasshoppers today near your garden (not that you were counting), it’s a good thing you’re here. As summer kicks into full gear, the grasshoppers won’t be slowing down any.
The weather is the biggest factor when predicting or determining a grasshopper infestation.
According to a publication from the University of Nebraska, grasshoppers favor regions with less than 25 inches of annual rainfall. This is because grasshoppers cannot control their own temperatures, so the weather is their worst enemy.
You can almost predict your own grasshopper infestation by watching the weather patterns of each season leading up to spring.
Grasshoppers lay their eggs at the end of summer and beginning of fall, protect them in the soil throughout the winter, and hatch in the spring. A wet, cold early spring will harm the eggs and nymphs of the grasshoppers halting their population in its tracks. Whereas a warm, dry spring could call for early hatching and large populations.
However, if it is too dry, plants cannot grow properly, starving the grasshopper population. Seasons like this are what cause outbreaks of damage. If it is too wet, the breeding ground shifts towards fungus and parasites, which is not optimal for the grasshoppers.
Once summer is in full swing, the dry (but not too dry), hot weather in most states would contribute to any grasshopper population if the eggs made it through the wet and cold weather patterns from fall to spring.
So, what exactly attracts grasshoppers to your yard in the first place? I’m glad you asked.
7 Common Things That Attract Grasshoppers To Your Yard
Grasshoppers are attracted to an array of plants that are already growing in your yard. They prefer to feast on the leaves of your crops and veggies growing in your fields and gardens, but will still eat the delicate fruits and flowers from your healthy plants.
In less common cases, they will eat from your trees and shrubs when they run out of their most desirable food sources.
Grasshoppers aren’t attracted to everything green, just most things. There are more specific plants that catch their scents and bring them flying in numbers.
Crops Bring In Grasshoppers
Somewhere out there right now, millions of grasshoppers are destroying some crops, and we’ve just now started summer.
Grasshoppers are usually found in large fields and pastures with or without livestock. They’re not picky.
They are more commonly attracted to staple crops such as wheat, bran, flax, corn, and cotton. Typically found around these crops are large patches of alfalfa and clover, which grasshoppers especially enjoy.
Grasshoppers typically go after plants at their most vulnerable points. They bite the grain heads, seeds, and flowers right off the top of the plants.
In some cases, grasshoppers can even prevent the pollination of corn plants.
There is no doubt that grasshoppers are attracted to certain chief crops costing farmers thousands of dollars a year in damage.
Gardens Attract Grasshoppers
If you’ve been out to your garden today, I bet you found a grasshopper hopping around your plants. They enjoy garden-fresh vegetables as much as we do!
At first glance, they probably didn’t seem as if they were bothering anything until you noticed the holes and chewed-off edges on the leaves of your plants. Yeah, that’s them.
Honestly, take it as a compliment. It means you’re growing some pretty healthy plants, because grasshoppers favor young, green leaves over the yellow, decaying leaves.
It could also mean you’re growing some specific garden veggies grasshoppers like to feast on.
In your garden, grasshoppers can be attracted to lettuce, carrots, beans, and potatoes.
If you’re growing any of those four, you will probably find some grasshoppers jumping around them, and there are a few plants you will watch them avoid.
Grasshoppers are not attracted to tomatoes, peas, or squash.
Grasshoppers Feed On Trees
It’s not usually thought of, but grasshoppers also feed on trees.
It is less common, but in extreme cases of grasshopper infestations, they will eat the leaves of trees and sometimes even take a bite of the bark and eat some twigs.
Often, if you see grasshoppers around your trees, it’s because you don’t have any adequate feeding spots or shelter for the grasshoppers, possibly because they devoured them all.
They could also be hopping around if you have fruit trees. They favor the leaves of fruit trees and sometimes even go for the buds of the fruits.
Fruits Smell Divine To Grasshoppers
When it says fruits, it doesn’t mean your strawberries. Grasshoppers are not known to eat large fruits from the plant. However, grasshoppers will destroy fruit orchards, damaging even the youngest trees in them.
They are, however, attracted to the sweet scents given off by the fruits, which attract them to your yard.
The Yearbook of Agriculture discovered in a study to bait grasshoppers that scents from fruits, such as lemons and apples, attracted them.
So, you’ll want to avoid having these food scraps (or trees if you’re growing) in your house or garden.
If you compost, just do it far away from the house!
Shrubs Attract Grasshoppers
Even if you don’t have a garden, grasshoppers are attracted to the green foliage surrounding your home.
When the weather conditions are warm and dry, grasshoppers may feast on your landscape plants. This includes the bushes and shrubs around your home.
Keeping up with the landscape maintenance of your home can help eliminate food sources for grasshoppers, decreasing your encounters with them.
Flowers Entice Grasshoppers
Unfortunately, grasshoppers will not only eat the leaves of plants, but they will eat your entire plant. They have been found ingesting the leaves, stems, and flowers of a plant.
Grasshoppers favor flowers from alfalfa and clover and will eat the flowers right off the top of the plant, negatively affecting the overall ecosystem of your garden.
Fewer flowers making it to full bloom means a dull life for us and the bees!
Grasshoppers Love Long Grass
It’s in their name. It’s no question that grasshoppers are attracted to long grasses!
Grasshoppers are primarily attracted to range (long) grasses and use them to shelter, breed, and eat. They prefer to munch off range grasses such as fescue, big bluestem, and wheat grasses.
During the warmest part of the day, grasshoppers use tall grasses to shelter from the sun.
Also – this is just best practice but KEEP YOUR LAWN MOWED! If you have a grasshopper or any other pest/animal issue in your yard, this is such a huge thing that brings them in.
The long grass provides them shelter from predators. With long grass, birds can’t see them and smaller rodents that feed on grasshoppers will have some difficulty finding them.
So, get out that mower!
How to Keep Grasshoppers Off Your Plants
The biggest struggle to rid your garden of grasshoppers is keeping them off your plants in the first place.
If you’re looking for a quick fix, there are many protective covers that you can place over your vulnerable plants that still allow adequate sunlight through. Agfabric is a well-known garden netting that helps keep the grasshoppers off your plant and even protects them from frost too!
According to the Colorado State University Extension, grasshoppers can eat right through fabrics, so if your grasshopper issue is out of control, you’ll want to try a different option.
Since grasshoppers lay eggs in the soil, grasshoppers are likely hatching directly in your garden. In that case, a protective fabric most likely won’t help, unless you are burning off your garden to prep for the new season (If you’re not, you should be! It is super beneficial for your garden nutritionally and to eliminate grasshopper eggs and nymphs).
There are many scents grasshoppers hate (check out the list!), which will repel them from jumping into your garden. Many of these scents can be found in essential oils. Just dilute them with water to spray on your plants.
If you don’t have time for a little DIY, Wondercide is a natural way to control and eliminate grasshoppers and other insects around your home and garden. This outdoor pest control concentrate is made with all-natural essential oils to protect your home and garden from invaders. They even make Flea And Tick Spray for your pets!
Tips & Tricks To Keep Them Away
There are a few tips and tricks you can try to slow down the feeding of grasshoppers if you’re wanting to keep them around but off your plants.
- Next time you go out to water the plants in your garden, check the saturation level of your soil and see just how well you’re watering. You can do this by placing your finger in the soil to find where the saturated soil ends. You may find that you need to water some more. Eliminating any drought to your plants will keep the grasshoppers away and the eggs from developing.
- Water around your trees, shrubs, and garden, not just the plants themselves. Keeping the grass around the area green will encourage the grasshoppers to feed there instead of your plants.
- Next time you go out to mow, leave a tall border of grass around your yard. This will provide adequate feeding and shelter for your grasshoppers, leaving no reason for them to hop on over to your plants.
These tips and tricks are not intended to keep grasshoppers away long-term, and you might find that they don’t work for your situation at all. If that’s the case, there are still other options.
How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers Long Term
In some cases of grasshopper infestations, it may take a lengthy amount of time to get rid of them completely.
It is easier to target grasshoppers at their source than to target them after they’ve begun feasting on your plants. Adult grasshoppers are harder to eliminate than nymphs.
To rid grasshoppers effectively long-term, treat areas of the yard where grasshoppers begin growth. To review, those areas include large pastures, roadside ditches, and any expansive area with excessive plant growth and adequate shelter for the grasshoppers.
If the grasshopper population ever seems to jump out of your control, it is always best to jump on the phone and contact a professional.
Chickens, Guinea Hens, and Turkeys Can Help Rid Your Yard Of Grasshoppers
These birds commonly feast on grasshoppers (and ticks, of course!) which can help control the population of them in your yard.
Allowing chickens to free-range around your garden will help keep grasshoppers off your plants, but maybe fence off your garden so these birds don’t damage your plants.
Chickens are also known to attack other garden bugs and pests, so they’ll make a great addition to your yard!
Plus – eggs!
The number of greenery grasshoppers are attracted to might be overwhelming. Your next step is to figure out which combination of those plants is creating a desirable environment for those grasshoppers and what action you should take to prevent any further damage to your plants.
To review, grasshoppers are attracted to the healthy, luscious plants that are growing in your yard, which means they’re attracted to pretty much anything green and growing.
Next time you step outside, try counting the grasshoppers you encounter. You might discover an increase in the number you see as the days get hotter.
Remember, for next season, there are things you can do to help prevent the migration back to your yard. One grasshopper infestation creates a pattern for seasons to come.
Chu, I.-W., & Knutson, H. (1970). Preferences of Eight Grasshopper among Eleven Species of Cultivated Grasses. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, 43(1), 20–31. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25083838
Pfadt, R. E. (1994). Field Guide to Common Western Grasshoppers, Part 4. Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station: Laramie.
Region, W. (1973). Grasshopper control.
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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