Poor apple trees...

mulberryknobJuly 24, 2012

The grasshoppers are eating the leaves off them. So off to WM I went today to get Sevin Spray and DH mixed up enough for the apples, plum, fig and kiwi. Hate to do it, but they are defoliating the trees. And three of the apples and the fig are full of fruit. We really don't like using poison, but didn't know what else to do. You can't handpick grasshoppers, or dust Sevin on them.

I guess we'll be peeling apples.

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Sorry to hear it Dorothy. It seems y'all are having every possible drought complication or side effect that's possible. Until we moved to the country, I had no concept what huge numbers of grasshoppers rural residents have to deal with during drought. In a wet year, we'll still have more hoppers out here in the country than we had in town, but not so many that I worry about them. In a dry year, though, their numbers are almost indescribable, and they always are so ravenously hungry.

I hope you are able to salvage as many of the apples as possible. In 2003 they even ate the bark on the young fruit trees here, which resulted in some tree death so I hope you're able to successfully fend them off.

The grasshoppers are starting, just these last couple of days, to strip the foliage from the tomato plants I am trying to save for fall production. I also found them trying to chew through floating row cover that is protecting my fall southern peas. I suspect if they keep trying, they'll succeed. Also in 2003 they ate holes in our fiberglass window screens, so the thin Agribon row cover material is not going to deter them if they really want to eat the southern peas.

I haven't decided what I am going to do about the hoppers, but if I am going to do anything to save the plants, I need to make up my mind and do it tomorrow or it will be too late.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 10:04PM
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Dawn, in the 80's, when there were a lot of grass hoppers, I would let the chickens out.

Late in the afternoon, just about 15 to 20 minutes before they would like to go to roost for the night.

They would run all over, and eat them hoppers. It was so much fun to watch.

Don't you have some chickens, Dawn? Try it.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 10:12PM
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I have seen more grasshoppers in my garden this year than I have seen in the last 10 years combined. Usually I will see a few as the weather gets dry, but have lots more this year.

My son lives in the country with lots of farms around him growing beans and the hoppers are thick there every year. They are those flying kind and if you walk in tall grass they are all around you.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 10:26PM
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Reminds me of the link Dawn posted about the huge hopper pop in Texas. Spray the grass and they moved to the trees. Stripped the trees nekkid. Sprayed at all and the neighbors crop of hoppers repopulated a few days later. Nothing left. So very sad. They're so aggressive even before they turn into locusts.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 11:46PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Moni, I do have chickens. I let them out for 6 to 8 hours a day but they are no match for all the hoppers. No matter how many they eat, more keep coming. Here, we often have hopper infestations numbering 10 to 15 hoppers per square yard in the yard and garden areas, but many more per square yard in the pastures. We have 14.4 acres. Do the math. lol I'd have to have a whole lot of chickens to control them all.

The chickens eat the hoppers outside the garden. I cannot and do not let the chickens free range in the garden at this time of year because they prefer the taste of watermelons, cantaloupes, cucumbers and tomatoes to the taste of grasshoppers.

The tough part with grasshoppers is that no matter how many you kill in a rural area, more just move in from next door. When you have huge hordes of them migrating through thousands of acres of grassland, you cannot stop them all. They are most attracted to anything still green. Obviously, out in rural areas where ranchers cannot irrigate all those acres of native grassland used as pasture for cattle, the hoppers flock to yards and gardens watered by residents.

Grasshoppers were bad in NE and parts of northern OK very early this year. I remember that one of of forum members who posts here as Jcatblum had hoppers all over her market crops long before I saw a single one here. It is likely her crops were green and beautiful and healthy and the hoppers migrated to her fields to feed. That is how it is in rural areas.

The best hopper control I've ever had was guineas, but we don't have them any more. I miss them terribly, but the heartbreak of getting attached to them and then losing them to predators is too hard to bear so we quit raising them. After that awful year when we had the cougar issues along with a large coyote and bobcat population, and lost 30 or 40 chickens and guineas in one summer (all our neighbors lost ALL their poultry that summer too, well over 120 birds), with us sometimes losing as many as 4 guineas per day......(sigh). I just think there still is too much wildlife here for free-ranging guineas. They are too loud for their own good, drawing attention and predators, and roam too far. Our neighbors never minded having the guineas scour their pastures for grasshoppers, but once the predators knew the guineas roamed in those tall grass pastures, they also knew where to lie in wait and get them.

I'd get guineas again in a heartbeat if I could keep them alive, but with all the wildlife management area here...and wildlife that freely leaves it to roam at will hunting for food, guineas are a poor investment for us.

Bon, That is so true. We moved here in 1999 following horrible grasshopper outbreaks in Texas for that last couple of years before we moved here. The grasshoppers were just as bad here in our early years. In 2003, a year in which our total rainfall was less than half our annual average, the grasshoppers ate everything they could find....grass, flowers, perennials, shrubs, vines, fruit trees (leaves, bark, fruit) etc. This was after they'd already devoured the veggie garden. Then, when they ran out of their preferred food, they began eating the cotton pillows on the porch swing, the fiberglass window screens, the cotton rag rugs on the wraparound porch, the dogs' blankets in their doghouses in the dogyard, etc. Nothing was safe from them.

In an average year, I apply a natural organism, Nosema locuste at hatch time in spring, and it begins a cycle of destruction that helps keep their population very low on our property. In a year like that, I don't really have a lot of damage from them. But, that's with average or above-average rain, and in those years they don't migrate around in huge mobs. In an hot, dry year with drought like we are having now, they are virtually unstoppable. Kill a thousand today and you'll have two thousand rush in tomorrow or the next day to fill that vacuum.

Products that contain Nosema locuste, like Nolo Bait and Semaspore are wonderfully helpful, but they aren't a quick kill, and they are most effective when grasshoppers are in the early instars (roughly 1/4"to 1/2" long). It is best to not treat the tiniest hoppers that just hatched, but to wait for them to reach the third instar. Or, put out Nolo Bait several times over a period of a few weeks. That's what I usually do. These products work best for me when applied in April through earliest May, in a normal year with normal temperatures. Semaspore and Nolo Bait have a short shelf life, and the cannisters or bags come with an expiration date printed on them. Thus, I try to wait until right before I need any to buy it. They also work best in cool spring temperatures. Next year, I will buy some in April and put it out whether I think I need it or not, probably weekly or maybe every other week for a couple of months. This year the big hatch was really late here....in June I think. I suspect May was too hot and dryfor them, but I'm not sure, and then all that rain fell in latest May and earliest June and all of a sudden hoppers were hatching everywhere.

One way that Nosema locuste is so effective is that it will reproduce in grasshoppers affected by it. Then, because grasshoppers are cannibalistic and will eat each other, the Nosema locuste in dead grasshoppers will sicken and kill those hoppers that eat their dead bodies. So, Semaspore and Nolo Bait are a gift that just keeps giving. Nosema locuste also kill crickets and Mormon crickets.

At the same time those hoppers were so bad here, an acquaintance of mine lived on acreage west of Fort Worth, and grasshoppers became a huge problem because she grew really nice pasture grasses for her horses and the hoppers would destroy those pastures. At my suggestion, she purchased a 50-lb. bag of Nolo Bait and applied it. Even though it was pretty late in spring or even already was early summer, she had incredibly wonderful results and was thrilled. Often it appears to be more effective the second year when the disease organism has had time to infiltrate huge numbers of hoppers and spread itself around your property.


Here is a link that might be useful: Info on Nosema locuste

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 9:48AM
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I re-tilled an area where I had tiller in corn and green beans this morning. I could see something moving on the soil. I got down low enough that I could see what it was, it was hundreds or maybe thousands of baby grasshoppers. It looks as tho my grasshopper problem is going to get worse before it gets better.

I was hoping to plant a fall crop but I dont think it will stand a chance against the grasshoppers.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 10:51AM
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