In many ways, grasshoppers seem to have a destructive nature, but in fact, they positively contribute to the environment. A couple of the ways they benefit the environment is by fertilizing vegetation with their droppings. They are a food source for rodents, birds, other creatures, and even humans in specific geographical locations around the world. One way they are helpful is by participating in the decomposition and regrowth of plants, ultimately keeping the balance of the plant types that thrive. In death, they continue to benefit the earth as their nitrogen-rich bodies decompose and promote the growth of carbohydrate-rich plants.
Along with all of the positive attributes of grasshoppers, they also have negative traits. Grasshoppers, in most cases, are a farmer’s worst enemy as they can decimate their crops. Grasshoppers can also be a nuisance to families that live in rural areas with land, vegetable gardens, flower gardens, and a well-manicured lawn. If left unchecked, a grasshopper population can cause severe damage to your prize shrubs, landscaping trees, and gardens. Learning how to get rid of grasshoppers will help you defend your yard from these pesky creatures.
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What Are Grasshoppers?
There are over 20,000 species of grasshoppers, over 1,000 of those different species live in the United States. In general, Grasshoppers are herbivores and feed on an array of plants. Some grasshopper species only consume grasses, but all will eat just about any vegetation. Grasshoppers a considerable concern for commercial and private farmers alike, as grasshoppers can have tremendous explosions in their populations and cause insurmountable damage to crops and grasslands.
Grasshoppers are most active during autumn months but are present from spring to fall. They are the natural prey for creatures such as lizards, birds, spiders, mantids, rodents, and, depending on the geographical location, humans. Grasshoppers provide an excellent source of protein and help sustain many different populations, including insects, arachnids, and animals.
Considered to be of the most voracious feeders on the planet, grasshoppers can consume up to half of their body weight in a day. They typically chew up leaves, plant stems, and during extreme infestations, can completely defoliate fields of crops. Grasshoppers in the western United States are estimated to eat up to 25 percent of the forage. Grasshoppers are one of the most destructive creatures when it comes to vegetation.
Though there are many species of grasshoppers, the majority of them share the same developmental life cycle. Fertilized grasshopper eggs are encased in elongated pods and buried in the soil during the later months of the summer. These egg pods lay dormant through the winter months and hatch in early spring. When the youth have emerged, they will seek food in the area they hatch and continue to feed in this area until food sources have become scarce.
>As they grow and molt a total of five to six times to reach adulthood, they will migrate from one area to the next in search of food. The adult grasshoppers will continue to feed until cold weather kills them off, which is generally one generation per area per year.
What Do Grasshoppers Look Like?
Grasshoppers have a range of different appearances across species, but can be fit into a general description. Adults are between 1 to 2 inches in length, have green, yellow, reddish, or brown colorations, fully developed wings, prominent jaws, and short antennae. They also have large hind legs that enable them to jump vast distances. Grasshopper young or nymphs are nearly identical to adults but tend to be smaller with wing buds instead of wings.
Where Do Grasshoppers Live?
In the United States, grasshoppers are geographically found anywhere there is enough vegetation to support life. As far as their natural habitats, grasshoppers are commonly found living in crops, grasses, forests, ranchlands, gardens, and yards. As long as the weather permits and plant sources are available for grasshoppers to feed on, they are present whether you see them or not. If they are wreaking havoc on your property, there are ways you can reduce the threat they pose. Still, if you are experiencing a significant infestation, you may want to enlist the help of a professional pest control agency.
How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers
Grasshoppers are nearly impossible to eliminate, but there are methods you can employ to manage them and protect your lawns and gardens. Safeguarding your garden starts in the spring by cultivating or rototilling your crops to destroy grasshopper eggs that were laid late in the previous summer. Covering your garden rows with row covers will also provide a layer of protection against grasshoppers. Grasshopper bait can be applied directly to your lawn and garden as a means of control and is most effective in the spring as their young hatch and begin to feed.
Insecticides serve as a viable way to control grasshopper populations. Biological insecticides use entomopathogenic fungi to attack grasshoppers and other lawn and garden pests. Chemical-based insecticides that are approved for organic use are also available and are non-toxic to beneficial insects such as honey bees. Another less invasive method you can take is to keep the grass around the perimeter of your garden, and your lawn mowed. Keeping your lawn and garden trimmed will deter grasshoppers from entering the area due to the lack of food and the exposure to predators that short grass creates for them.
Overall, grasshoppers aren’t that bad, but let them have a population boom while setting their sights on your lawn and garden, and you will have a severe problem on your hands. Getting them under control typically includes implementing prevention methods, applying baits, and using insecticides. In situations where you can’t get a hold on your grasshopper problems, hiring a professional exterminator might be necessary. Keep in mind that learning how to get rid of grasshoppers will help to protect your lawn and garden from these menacing pests.