Since the dawn of agriculture, plants have been plagued by ravenous insect pests. But no gardener wants grasshoppers in his garden, and no farmer wants to see the season’s crops eaten by locusts. How do you get rid of grasshoppers and locusts?
How to get rid of grasshoppers and locusts? To get rid of grasshoppers and locusts, use effective and safe remedies that won’t damage your greenery, including applying neem oil or pepper spray around your yard. You can also use chemical pesticides or hire a pest control specialist in cases of large infestations.
If you want to learn how to get rid of grasshoppers and locusts, we are here to teach you. This article will also cover the differences between locusts and grasshoppers and how to keep grasshoppers and locusts out of your home and yard.
Locust vs. Grasshopper
It can be hard to tell the difference between locusts and grasshoppers. Locusts and grasshoppers look very much alike. Both locusts and grasshoppers have strong hind legs for jumping and strong mouthparts for chewing leaves. And most of the time, locusts and grasshoppers behave very similarly.
Difference Between Locust and Grasshopper
Grasshoppers do not come together in swarms like locusts that darken skies and strip fields and forests. Outside of the mating season, grasshoppers are solitary insects that will avoid each other if given a chance.
Do Grasshoppers Turn Into Locusts?
Most grasshoppers do not form swarms. You might see many more grasshoppers than usual in a season. But those grasshoppers do not fly in unison like a locust swarm. There are a few species of grasshopper that will, under certain conditions, seek each other out and swarm in search of new food. These grasshoppers are called “locusts.”
You are far more likely to see a grasshopper than a locust. Locust swarms are an uncommon occurrence – and thankfully so! Here are some helpful facts about grasshoppers.
What Is Grasshopper?
Grasshoppers are some of the most ancient animals. Fossilized ancestors of today’s grasshoppers date back to the Triassic Era. Both locusts and grasshoppers belong to the order Orthoptera and its suborder Caelifera and are closely related to katydids and crickets.
Do Grasshoppers Fly?
When grasshoppers feel threatened, they use their powerful hind legs to hop away from the situation. But grasshoppers have wings and can take to the air in search of food and mates. They don’t travel as far as a locust swarm, but grasshoppers are strong flyers.
How Long Do Grasshoppers Live?
Grasshopper nymphs are born in the springtime and become adults by summer. A grasshopper’s life span is around one year, but they spend most of that time in an egg pod. After hatching, grasshoppers will only live until the first frost.
How Many Legs Does a Grasshopper Have?
Grasshoppers have four short legs and two long legs. They use their long legs for jumping. By rubbing the serrated edges of their legs against their body, they produce a distinctive chirping noise to attract mates.
What Does a Grasshopper Look Like?
Grasshoppers have green, brown, or black bodies with large hind legs and enormous eyes. Some have red, yellow, or orange markings. Grasshoppers have a large pair of rear wings and long slender forewings. Adult grasshoppers range in size from 1-7 cm (½ to nearly four inches).
Grasshopper Life Cycle
Grasshopper nymphs hatch from their egg pods in the springtime. When you see little green grasshoppers in gardens, you see the next generation of grasshoppers.
Over the next few weeks, the grasshopper nymphs will molt five times until they become adult grasshoppers. Not long after, they will mate. The female lays eggs in sand or under leaf litter, then covers them with a sticky substance that hardens into a pod. In spring, the cycle repeats.
Where Do Grasshoppers Live?
Grasshoppers live on every continent except Antarctica. Scientists have identified over 8,000 species, and there are likely many more grasshoppers that have not yet been classified.
What Do Grasshoppers Eat?
Grasshoppers are herbivores who will eat any part of the plant they can chew. Leaves, stems, flowers, fruit – it’s all lunch to a hungry grasshopper. When they need extra protein, grasshoppers will sometimes snack on an insect corpse.
When your garden is getting nibbled to death by grasshoppers, you can’t help but think of the Biblical plague of locusts. And you realize things could be much worse. These grasshoppers may be chewing up your lettuce, but they’re not stripping your crops bare.
So what is the difference between a grasshopper and a locust?
What Is a Locust?
Most of the time, they are difficult to distinguish from other grasshopper species. They mate, eat and live as solitary insects. But when they are crowded together with diminishing food, locusts form their notorious swarms. Locusts are a species of grasshopper that will swarm under certain conditions. The vast majority of grasshopper species will never swarm.
How Long Do Locusts Live?
Locusts only live for three to six months. But in one generation, under favorable conditions, their numbers can increase 16-fold.
What Does a Locust Look Like?
Most of the time, locusts look and behave like any other grasshopper. Until recently, scientists thought solitary locusts – locusts who were not swarming -were a different species than the larger, more brightly colored swarming locusts.
When locusts swarm, their color changes, and their muscles grow larger, allowing them to fly for long distances. Swarming behavior happens through a flood of serotonin in the locusts’ brain, making solitary locusts behave like a unified group.
Locust Life Cycle
Locusts live in barren regions where food is scarce. When the rains come, their home is suddenly full of greenery. During these good times, the locusts come together and breed. Soon the rains end, and food becomes scarce again.
As the locusts get pushed into ever-smaller patches of vegetation, they are forced into close contact with each other. Instead of flying off on their own, they come together like a school of fish. As they eat the last of their food, the hungry locust swarm takes off for greener pastures.
Where Do Locusts Live?
Locusts are usually found in a band stretching across sub-Saharan Africa south of the Sahara and into India. When they swarm, they can reach as far as Europe. Different species of swarming locusts live in Australia and South America.
What Do Locusts Eat?
A locust can eat its weight in vegetation every day. 2 grams might not seem like a lot. But a massive locust swarm can cover 100 square miles or more, with 40 million to 80 million locusts packed in half a square mile. That 100 square mile swarm can consume as much food in one day as 8.75 million people!
How To Get Rid of Grasshoppers?
Now that we know more about grasshoppers and locusts, we can deal with the most critical question: what is the best way to get rid of grasshoppers?
How To Get Rid of Grasshoppers in Garden?
Neem oil is a natural way to get rid of grasshoppers on plants. Mix half a teaspoon of neem oil like the Dyna-Gro NEM-008 Neem Oil with half a teaspoon of castile soap in four cups of water. When sprayed on plants, Neem oil is an organic insecticide for grasshoppers and other insect pests.
- Used on any plant to produce clean and shiny leaves
- Natural shine on leaves without clogging the stomata
- Cold pressed from the seeds of the neem tree
- Size: 8 oz
- Available in a variety of sizes
You can also use diatomaceous earth, which scratches an insect’s exoskeleton, causing them to become dehydrated and die. To use diatomaceous earth as a pesticide, spray it on your plants and your yard. The HARRIS Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade should get your garden through several grasshopper seasons.
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How To Get Rid of Grasshoppers in House?
You can get rid of grasshoppers in your home with a molasses trap. Pour three tablespoons of molasses into a cup of water, then leave this in a waterproof dish or bowl. (Adding a teaspoon of cooking oil will help discourage bees and flies from landing in the mixture).
When the grasshopper smells the sweet molasses, it will jump into the bowl, then drown as it becomes stuck in the liquid.
Getting Rid of Grasshoppers Naturally
Other than neem oil, diatomaceous earth, and molasses, garlic and hot pepper also serve as natural grasshopper repellents.
To get rid of grasshoppers, try this garlic/red pepper spray:
- Add four minced cloves of garlic and four chopped cayenne peppers to 6 cups of water.
- Simmer for 20 minutes on medium heat, then let the mixture cool overnight.
- Strain the hot pepper/garlic concentrate.
- Put one cup of this concentrate in a gallon of water, then spray it on your foliage.
You may wish to mist a test area on your plants first to ensure they are not sensitive to the mix. You will also need to reapply after every rain.
How To Get Rid of Locusts?
We have been trying to get rid of locusts for thousands of years. So far, we have not succeeded. Locusts ate crops in ancient Egypt and continue to eat crops today. But scientists have not stopped fighting the locust problem.
How To Get Rid of Locusts in Your Garden?
When faced with a locust swarm, governments typically respond with highly toxic pesticides like Malathion, Chlorpyrifos, and Deltamethrin. These are effective at killing locusts, but they also pose severe risks to other local fauna and humans living in the area.
How To Get Rid of Locusts in Home?
If you can’t beat them, eat them. Locusts are an ancient source of protein and a staple part of many diets in the developing world. But rising use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers means that locusts are no longer a safe replacement for the food they consume.
How To Get Rid of Locusts Naturally?
Scientists fighting locusts in Africa have explored using Nosema locustae, a single-celled parasite that kills locusts and grasshoppers. They have also considered importing an Australian wasp whose larvae eat grasshopper egg pods to keep locust populations down. So far, these methods have not stopped locust swarms, though they have become less common occurrences.
What To Use To Get Rid of Grasshoppers and Locusts?
Before you decide what to use to get rid of your grasshoppers or locusts, you need to know the scale of your grasshopper infestation. How big or small the problem is will determine which method you choose.
Home Remedies To Get Rid of Grasshoppers and Locusts
The natural remedies for grasshoppers provided above should be enough for most people. You can get rid of grasshoppers naturally with garlic spray, diatomaceous earth, or other natural remedies for grasshoppers in your garden.
If you apply chemical insecticides or pesticides to your garden, make sure you read the instructions thoroughly. You may want to consult a pest control specialist.
Grasshoppers can be a nuisance, and locusts can cause famines. Using natural methods, you can get rid of grasshoppers without endangering your families’ health. You may feel that your grasshopper infestation is like a Biblical plague of locusts. Be thankful it is not.
List of Sources
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Fighting the Locusts … Safely.
Merchant, M. (2012). How high can grasshoppers fly? Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.
Silezar, J. (2020). East Africa facing massive swarms of locusts. The Harvard Gazette.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Grasshoppers and Their Control.
Evans, E. W., Hodgson, E. W. (2008). Grasshoppers. Utah State University Extension and Utah Plant Pest Diagnostic Laboratory.