Dear Dan,
This year’s crop is looking outstanding! They are growing wonderfully this year. Lately though, starting in August, the grasshoppers have been on full attack mode. They are eating the buds that are starting to bloom and the water leaves too. Is there something I can do to stop the grasshoppers from eating all the buds before there is none left to harvest? — Jon J.

Dear Jon,

Grasshoppers can do serious damage to leaves and buds. They chew holes that look like tiny spots and take away from your plants ability to grow and thrive. If an infestation gets out of control, plant death can quickly occur. It’s important to recognize the signs of grasshoppers and act quickly in order to contain and destroy them.

I highly recommend taking the natural route and trying to use products that are organic and will not do lasting damage to your plants. Products containing Spinosad or Pyrethrin can be sprayed onto the affected areas without causing harm to pets or beneficial insects. Spraying a mist containing insecticidal soaps such as Safer Soap can be effective against grasshoppers but must be applied a few times for best results. Neem Oil is also a good route to take, especially during the vegetative stage as you don’t want this nasty smelling and tasting stuff leaving residue on your flowers.

If you’d rather go the predator route, order some Praying Mantis egg sacs through the mail and release them on your plants. They are voracious eaters of grasshoppers and will devour many of them quickly and hopefully scare the rest away. Predator birds, include bluebirds, mockingbirds and sparrows, so nesting boxes and birdbaths can add to their effectiveness. Chickens and ducks eat plenty of grasshoppers as well.

Grasshopper damage photo courtesy of Dinafem Seeds.

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