Predator for grasshoppers? Eating everything!

brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)June 26, 2011

Hi, Everyone;

Beginning last year, the grasshoppers decided my yard was a buffet and they did tremendous damage and are doing the same again this year. My poor chocolate mint has been decimated, holes in my sunflower leaves, plus other plants. Is there a predator I can get and use? Maybe someone would like to loan me a duck (I hear they are very efficient at eating bugs)? I have used some insecticidal soap but I cannot tell it has discouraged them at all. I hope someone can help me w/ this problem. Thanks, Brandy

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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

There are many predators of grasshoppers ranging from nematodes to birds, but the grasshoppers seem to be able to grow faster then the predators can control them. Insecticidal Soap sprays are not very effective at control of grasshoppers. The information linked below might be of some help.

Here is a link that might be useful: Grasshoppers

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 6:48AM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

Thank you, that article looks promising. I don't want to wipe the grasshoppers out- just decrease the population so the damage is more reasonable. I appreciate the info. Brandy

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 12:25AM
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lazy_gardens

What insecticides and other pest control measures have you been using? If you stop using any insecticides, you will see an initial surge in pest numbers but the predators will increase next.

Insect-eating birds are probably the best natural control for grasshoppers, so do what you can to encourage more birds. They need water, nest areas, and bugs.

Parasitic wasps can help, but you have to be careful to not kill the wasps while trying to kill other insects (such as grasshoppers).

Here is a link that might be useful: Natural Pest Control

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 1:13PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

It is not quite as simple as just stopping spraying poisons around the garden, you also need to create a habitiat, and environment, that these predators find to their liking so they will hang around even when their target insects are not in large enough quantities to support them. Since many of these predators also depend on many of the plants people consider "weeds" as an alternate food source that may create problems for some people, especially where people are required to maintain those dull, boring neatly trimmed yards with the same plants everywhere and no diverstiy.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 7:21AM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

The only spray I have used is insecticidal soap on some of the worst hit plants.
This is a diverse area environmentally. Most of my lot is wooded, and my yard is full of weeds (need to mow again). I don't like grass in my yard- too much upkeep, so I have not planted any. I have a lot of sunflowers planted for the goldfinches, and I have a feeder in the middle of my bulb garden, I also have beauty berry for the birds. There are some wet/swampy areas in the woods, too, but the "soil" is mostly sand here.
I don't live in a suburban area, but a rural one (there are turkey plants down the road).
I will look at the natural pest control site. Thank you.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 9:34AM
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scarlettfourseasonsrv

Blister Beetle larvae are a predator on grasshopper eggs. Unfortunately, adult blister beetles can desimate tomatoes and absolutely denude blossoms and entire plants.

This would seem the "cure" is worse than the problem. However, I came up with an idea that might help. Since blister beetles favor alfalfa over other plants, it seems reasonable to plant a patch of alfalfa around the veggie garden as a trap crop for the BBeetles. They especially like the blossoms. A plus is that the alfalfa is not only good for the soil but can be harvested and used as mulch or an additive to improve compost. Believe me, I've tried other remedies for grasshoppers, and nothing really seems to work very well.
Another thing about the Blister Beetles. I think I inadvertantly "imported" mine in a large round bale of hay a few years ago, whereas I'd never had them before. The grasshoppers on the other hand have always been a plague.

Let's face it, these issues are just some of the challenges gardeners face in the never ending struggle to put lovely homegrown food on the table, and in the pantry.

God bless gardeners~

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 9:09PM
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scarlettfourseasonsrv

PS: I'm NOT recommending you rush out and get some Blister Beetles~ but~ if you happen to find these nasty things munching on your tomatoes and green beans, just try to control them on selected plants, "sacrificing" a plant or two to the B Beetles. The best way I've found to kill them, (and other pests, including squash bugs), organically is with a combination of Spinosad and a bit of Neem Oil. Only spray in the evening if it's hot so you don't burn your plants.

The idea here is to leave enough of them alive so they can reproduce so their larvae can control the grasshoppers.

It's kind of danged if you do and danged if you don't. Just remember that alfalfa is their food of choice.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 9:27PM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

Thank you, Chips... I definitely don't want any blister beetles. I have planted rye in the fall to enrich the soil- have not used alfalfa (except the seed as fertilizer). I'm wondering if the grasshopper problem is not related to the shortage of bats... Any way, there seem to be less grasshoppers now than a month ago, maybe my garden spiders are having an effect...
I was curious about the treatment you mentioned- the Spinosad and Neem oil. Can you specify amounts and how harmful is it? How long before you can pick off a tomato and eat it w/o washing? I don't get any squash or cantaloupes because of the squash bugs, and I need to find a way of controlling them for next year. Thanks, Brandy

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 9:39PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Squash Bugs, Squash Vine Borers, Cucumber Beetles, etc. control programs are very similar. This publication covers most of it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Squash bug control

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 7:45AM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

I thought I would revive this thread. I'm hoping someone will give me a source for predator eggs, larvae, etc. Tiny grasshoppers everywhere, holes in leaves all over my yard. Wondering if part of the problem is cats keeping the birds from eating the grasshoppers (though the birds sure flock the bird feeder and empty it). Someone please recommend a place to order mantids or Syrphid Flies, or whatever seems appropriate (not blister beetles, though). Thanks, Brandy

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 10:38PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

How well birds will control grasshoppers, or any other insect, depends on having bird species that rely on insects for food. Most birds that frequent feeders are seed eaters rather than insect eaters, although even seed eaters will feed insects to their nestlings.
To attract birds that prey on insects you need to create a habitat friendly to them that provides a source of food as well as nesting sites. That also means not spraying poisons around the yard to kill off the insects they rely on for food.
The link below lists birds common in Florida that eat insects but that may be close enough although your University of North Carolina CES people should be able to provide a more local list.

Here is a link that might be useful: Birds that eat insects

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 7:01AM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

Thank you kimmsr. We definitely have some of these birds here, including whipoorwills, wrens, owls, bluebirds, goldfinches, cowbirds, cardinals, mockingbirds, blue jays, robins, titmouse, and woodpeckers. I hear woodpeckers and whipoorwills, have seen the others in my yard, and bats (though not often enough, as bats will eat pounds of mosquitos/day).
I'm not much on using poisons in the yard- usually insecticidal soap sometimes. A lot of birds nest in the woods surrounding our yard.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 7:15PM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

Toads! That's what I'm missing. I've seen very few the last 3 yrs or so. Anyone know where I can order some tadpoles, etc? (Of course, the cats might be the culprits in the vanished toad population- too much "playing" w/ hoppies.)

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 8:49PM
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lazy_gardens

Brandy - as kimmsr pointed out, feeders attract seed eating birds and you need bug-eaters. Make sure you have some shelter for them, water and enough bugs to keep them interested.

Mockingbirds, wrens, kinglets, flycatchers, kingbirds ... even chickens. Guinea hens! Also some wasps can hunt grasshoppers. As do some spiders.

One of my favorite sights is a mockingbird chasing a big grasshopper - the flying skill of both is amazing.

Here is a link that might be useful: birds of NC

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 4:37PM
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freki(5a)

plenty of places sell mantis egg cases. mantis don't feed on plants and will live in a variety of environments so long as there is food. Their favourite food being grasshoppers. Of the predators, probably the most effective for your problem.

plus mantis are not as dangerous as blister beetles & much cuter.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 10:35AM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

Thank you, I'm going to order some mantids.
As for the birds, I have a feeder in my bulb garden and see lots of birds, including mocking birds, carolina finches, goldfinches, cardinals, titmice, and blue jays. There are lots of trees (shelter). Water is a little more difficult- mosquitos are a reason not to have water basins (I get too many mosquitos just from my rain barrels). Don't think a lack of birds is the problem, toads though- really need some toads, and I miss seeing them.
That's all for now.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 10:18PM
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woohooman

I just witnessed a lizard munch a grasshopper in my lemon tree. Pretty awesome show!

Now, if I could only get my dog from killing the lizards.

:/

Kevin

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 7:44PM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

Yes, Kevin, I wonder if my problem w/ the grasshoppers didn't start w/ my cats killing toads and lizards. I still seem to have lots of lizards, but no toads. I have ordered some mantids and hope they get the grasshopper population under control.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 10:44PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Even seed eating birds eat insects and when raising young those nestlings are fed insects.
Create a habitat that is attractive to a wide variety of insect eating thingys, birds, toads, snakes, other insects (dragonflies, for example), and even centipedes, earwigs, etc.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 6:48AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The good thing about attracting those seed eating birds into your gardens is that their activity will bring in all kinds of birds!

Bird baths should be rinsed out every day for the health of the birds. Mosquitoes can never breed that quickly. Rain barrels can be treated with mosquito dunks.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 11:28AM
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tamie_sandytxsoil(8)

Kimmsr, can you check or repost the grasshopper link you shared earlier in this thread? Does not seem to be working for me and I'd sure like some advice on what I should do. They've taken out two Bougainvillea this week. Or at least I think it might be grasshoppers. Doesn't look like the work of my cut ants and I don't see any other bugs. So it's an assumption based on the type of damage and the large amount of grasshoppers we have on the property. (10 natural acres, lots of oak trees and SAND ...if that all matters)

Brandy, did you ever find success?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 12:35AM
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tamie_sandytxsoil(8)

I decided to try to have a look at night to see what was going on. Took a flashlight out and found two grasshoppers. A green spider or aphid or? not sure and a lizard falling down on the job. Actually he looked like he was still a baby. Here are some pics from my quest....I looked this guy up. He is a green lynx spider.

This post was edited by Tamie_SandyTxSoil on Mon, Aug 5, 13 at 2:28

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 1:41AM
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tamie_sandytxsoil(8)

Trying to combine the pics so I dont have to post each separately but not having any luck. So here is one of the grasshoppers. His wings look a little different. But you can also see where the end of the stalk is chewed off.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 2:23AM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

No, Tamie, I did not find success, I have gotten a lot better at catching grasshoppers though. Yes, I catch them and squish them under my shoes, then toss the carcass into my garden spiders' webs. I did buy some praying mantis' eggs, but it was already too late in the season, I think.
Those are nice pics you took; I like those little green spiders...but, they like to catch butterflies! I found a couple butterflies hanging upside down last summer and when I looked closer I discovered little spiders had caught them and were digesting them! Amazing!
Next spring I will start right away catching the grasshoppers- I have already killed over 200 this summer, and hope to eventually whittle them down to a reasonable number. Good luck w/ yours.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 6:54PM
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GreeneGarden(5)

Tilling in the fall with chickens, ducks, geese, or wild birds following will help to either get them to eat the pupa or disturb them enough to kill them. Tilling again in the spring will help to kill the larvae. In the fall, even better is to work in some soft organic matter (leaves, grass, etc. ) sprayed with honey water. That will kick the bacterial count up enough to cook those pupa.

Here is a link that might be useful: GarenForNutrition.org

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 9:58PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

The North Dakota State University changed what was on that link two years ago but this form the University of California is just as good.

Here is a link that might be useful: Grasshopper control

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 7:25AM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

Thank you, green garden and kimmsr. I can see one of the problems is that I use the no till method- plant an area, put down newspaper and mulch in between plants and leave it alone- requires little weeding. Also, this being sand, the roots of whatever is planted adds organic matter. But, I am putting down some compost now and will do some raking in areas that are not so thickly planted- maybe that will help some. I would like to have a bad-tasting spray to put on the worst hit plants- start w/ that next spring and protect those plants before the grasshoppers destroy them. (Would you believe that the grasshoppers have done a lot of damage to a large holly shrub that I have? Why can't they eat the wild holly in my yard instead of my precious "Christmas Jewel" holly???)
I don't know if it will make a difference but I hope I will be able to plant some rye this fall- at least that will improve the soil. Thanks again, Brandy.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 1:24PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

I'm having the same problem, we live right next to a hay field and as the season goes on the problem is worse. In the last three years the amount of praying mantis we have is amazing. But we still have grasshoppers. I'm going to ge t some of this spore bait for grasshoppers next year and put it out but it seems it only works when they are small so it's too late this year. Semaspore bait.

Here is a link that might be useful: Seam spore bait

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 3:58PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

As the link I posted above states baits laced with "Nosema locustae" are available and do help some. Seamaspore Bait is one that is available.

Here is a link that might be useful: About Nosema locustae

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 6:28AM
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