written by: Tony Smejek•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 1/14/2011
Grasshoppers, though harmless to watch or even handle, can have detrimental effects on crops and other vegetation. In large numbers, these pests can ruin crops immediately. Of course farmers and other agricultural personnel use pesticides to rid themselves of this problem.
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Nature Always Finds A Way
There is an existing natural way to control grasshopper populations. Humans do not even play a role in this method and it naturally occurs in the ecosystem.
Exposure to harsh weather conditions can be detrimental to newly hatched grasshoppers. Like most insects, their development depends on the temperature of the environment. This can be a problem because grasshoppers cannot control their body temperature and also don't have the ability to compensate for cold conditions. In dry seasons, no new plant plant growth would be available to the young grasshoppers. So, they just starve to death.
Predators can also feast upon grasshoppers, keeping their populations down. Organisms that are parasitic in nature can also contribute to a grasshopper's demise as well do fungal infections.
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John Deere Can Find A Way
There are agricultural techniques to controlling grasshoppers during drought conditions. Soil cultivation at the proper time of the year can be an effective way of limiting grasshopper numbers. A tilled field will discourage a grasshopper from laying their eggs. Apparently, tilling can eliminate excess vegetation that attract grasshoppers as well as starve hatching pests. Tillage can also leave a thick layer of plant residue to discourage grasshoppers from laying their eggs.
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Deadly Grasshopper Brew
There are natural pesticides that can help control these varmints. An application of Nosema Locuste, a single-celled protozoan known to be deadly specifically to grasshoppers, is effective. It can be applied to crops or other vegetation normally eaten by the pests. The catch is it only works when the grasshopper is in its nymph stage of development. When the grasshopper ingests this protozoan, it creates a disease. This results in the insect getting ill, stops feeding, and then dies.
Another natural way to control grasshoppers is to use a spray mixture called Diatomaceous spray. A cup of this white powdery substance with a gallon of water is like shards of glass to insects.
Pesticidal soaps can be suicidal to grasshoppers. When applied, the fatty acids from the soap work to soften the hard exoskeleton of the grasshopper, resulting in dehydration and death. Take note, be careful when spraying this on your plants because the effects are the same. You might want to test this soap solution on a small part of the plant leaf to see if any damage occurs.
All the way from the Neem Tree in Austraila, Neem Oil is yet another natural substance that can control grasshoppers. It's rather multifunctional in that it inhibits growth, repels grasshoppers, stops egg producing, and causes grasshoppers to loose their appetite.
There is a rather recent update in grasshopper control as well. A substance called Kaolin Clay, which is commonly used in pottery, is now being used as a form of grasshopper control. Add about 1 to 2 cups of this clay powder to a gallon of water. Add 5 teaspoons of soap. Then, spray it in your garden or crops. This can result in a thin film over the plant itself. This film is a repellent to grasshoppers. For efficiency when producing this mixture, make sure to slowly add the clay to just 1 or 2 cups of water along with the soap to create a gooey substance. After this, you can add it to the remaining gallon of water.
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With so many options to naturally control grasshoppers, you wouldn't need to worry about any environmental contaminants from commercial pesticides.