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So, last year I had a pretty intense grasshopper invasion. I didn’t do much about it, thinking it wouldn’t get as out of control as it did, thinking that there was nothing I could do (garlic sprays won’t do shit when you’ve 10,000 grasshoppers). I was completely and overwhelmingly wrong. Here’s a taste:
This year, I planned in advance. I bought some row covers; I bought a bird feeder to attract more birds (nothing felt better than watching 50-100 birds descend on my property last year to gobble up those pests); I bought a little pop-up tent to keep my taller plants looking fresh. I still ignored any insecticides as I didn’t want to use them. They’re a last resort for me, but definitely needed.
Here’s what I found the most useful:
- row covers & mesh. I covered plants with light-weight row covers and then later ordered some tulle and crinoline to cover plants. It works PERFECTLY! And, costs way less than traditional row covers or insect covers. I got the idea from this awesome blog.
- jars of vinegar & water
- Doctor Doom Insecticide Dust (I told you that you’ll need some insecticide)
- good old fashioned smushing of bugs
- leave areas of long grass to trap them. I did this with weeds, as well. Either pulled weeds in a big pile or by keeping some weeds up. Then, I could happily spray away.
- rain….I know, nothing you can do about that, but grasshoppers thrive in dry and hot weather. If it’s cool and rainy, they won’t grow as fast, which meanas you have more time to get to them. They are harder to kill once they are bigger.
It took me a while to get to where a spot where I feel like I have it under control, which was just now. Here are the lovely steps I took in lowering the population of grasshoppers.
Step 1. Think everything is fine and yay for beneficial insects to the eco system. Birds will eat them so yum yum!
Step 2. Get annoyed, but now completely overwhelmed by grasshoppers. Cry because they ate everything. Film a short apocalyptic video.
Step 3. Squish any grasshopper you see.
Step 4. Give into the madness and think next year you’ll be better. You have to be.
Step 5. Squish and rip apart any egg sacs you see in the garden when prepping for spring planting. Get tired because THERE ARE SO MANY. End up leaving some, thinking it’ll be fine.
Step 6. Order floating row covers and a pop up tent to protect your most vulnerable plants…have to take down the tent because it is too windy. Not use your floating row cover because too many grasshoppers popping up and you don’t want them to unearth right into your covered plants. Wait impatiently to use it.
Step 7. Wish you had tilled the garden in fall to have killed some eggs. Be glad you tilled in the spring.
Step 8. Use garlic spray on plants, thining this will deter them from eating plants. Read that they don’t like tomatoes or squash plants, so ignore those.
Step 9. Realize that the garlic spray is absolute bullshit and doesn’t help one bit. Also, grasshoppers don’t give a fig about tomatoes or pumpkins and will happily munch on anything.
Step 10. Lose your mind and break down and buy pesticides. Tell the woman at the garden centre that you want ‘whatever will murder the shit out of my grasshoppers’. She doesn’t fuck around and gives you malathion.
Realize it’ll kill the birds you’ve been attracting to munch on the grasshoppers and will also kill bees and other beneficial insects. Think seriously for a minute about using it because fuck these grasshoppers. Curse grasshoppers and put the heavy duty pesticide on the shelf…just in case.
Step 11. Spray more garlic. Buy insecticidal soap. Spray lots. Insecticidal soap seems to work. Spray even more. Wish you had bought the concentrate version because you’re actually starting to win.
Step 12. Put out jars of syrupy water because you heard molasses water will attract them and drown them but you didn’t have any molasses. Syrup should work, right? Attract a bunch of ants and some flies, instead. Put out bowls of vinegar, water and canola oil, instead. This works really well; unfortunately you have too many and need more death ideas.
Fill container halfway with vinegar, halfway with water, then add a splash of canola oil or soap to help it stick to them.
If you’ve a few grasshoppers that are annoying the living fuck out of you, this is the best method. It’s passive and works so well. But, if you have TONS, you’ll need to use multiple methods like I had to…and continue to.
Step 13. Squish as many as you possibly can, counting to 100 murders before you can go inside and have breakfast.
Step 14. Realize that you have tons of weeds in your garden and can therefore spray the shit out of them with a heavy vinegar spray and a bit of soap to kill them and the grasshoppers on them and munching. Use the same ratio as the bowls from above and spray away! Your weeds should start to die and your grasshoppers will, too!
Step 15. Realize that it’s going to take A LOT more to kill this hoard than some vinegar spray. Do more research and buy some insecticidal dust. Coat weeds with the dust, covering any grasshoppers you possibly can.
…it works! Rejoice and buy more.
TIP! squish, spray or dust your plants in the evening when it’s cool out. Your grasshoppers will be moving a lot slower and will, most likely, be covering items such as a shed or plants. You can get more all at once this way without having to spray multiple plants. You can also squish a WHOLE BUNCH instead of a couple. They also move more slowly after it rains, and that is an excellent time to squish or directly spray them.
Step 16. Listen to your friend’s 4 year old’s ideas. They include a tank and cannons. Think he’s onto something….
Step 17. Put out even more bird seed as the birds have begun descending, again. Damn near cry when it starts to rain and the smaller grasshoppers wash away.
Step 18. Continue putting out bowls of vinegar and filling the bird seed. Now that it’s hot you can’t use the dusting powder, but it’s not a problem. Because you’ve won. Sort of. The battle still rages, but you can take a breather. The birds are helping and you’re squishing or drowning any that you can see. The most vulnerable plants are covered with crinolin or tulle or covers and you are feeling hopeful. Start thinking of how hard you’re going to till up the garden next year.