Grasshoppers

What Is A Grasshopper’s Favourite Sport?… Cricket!

 I Woke up this Sunday to a lovely clear sky and bright sunshine after a lovely evening of a decent rainfall.  So refreshing and according to the weather channels that I follow there is more rain to come and way less smoke.  This will be really good for fall planting and all the work that needs to be done before our real fall hits.  Last year you may recall that in early October we had several days of minus 7 degree weather that even with the covering of plants to protect them was futile.  I don’t see this happening in the forecasts that I follow but Alberta, Saskatchewan and even as far as Ontario have already had killing frosts.  I hope for a lengthy fall but will deal with what we get and will be grateful for the absence of smoke and the onset of the badly needed rain.  One thing that I have noticed in the last month or so is a larger population of grasshoppers.  And am experiencing more damage to plants than I’ve seen for a while.

The grasshopper population supposedly peaks in a 7 year cycle and that weather is the main factor in their successful numbers which is usually a few years of hot, dry summers and warm falls.  Dry weather allows both the nymphs and adults survive and warm falls allows their numbers to multiply.  They grow from egg to nymph and then to adulthood within a 5 month period, the adult laying eggs every three to four days.  They feed mostly during the day but will dine at night as well if the need is there.   Certain varieties that exist and under certain circumstances will forsake their solitary behaviour and create swarms that go through changes in size and colour to become locusts which can cause great damage to crops as was seen in several countries this year.   Although the populations we have seen this year it is far from the decimation seen in other countries it is still hard to see a plant reduced to a stump in very short time. 

There are a few companion plants that can help like cilantro and calendula but by the time the grasshoppers are a pest it is almost too late to put this into action.  A spray of 1 cup cider vinegar to 3 cups water with a squirt of soap sprayed in the early morning on and around  the plants will help to deter them.  A garlic spray using 2 cups ground garlic with 10 cups water brought to a boil then cooled then added to a ratio of 1 part solution to 3 parts water can be used as well.  This stored in a dark cool place will be good for a couple of weeks.  One other solution that I particularly like is to sprinkle flour on the plants being affected unlike the rye flour used to combat the cabbage moth, any flour will work.  The flour will gum up the grasshopper’s mouth and it makes it impossible for them to eat and therefore it is their demise. This has worked for me when the plant they were chewing was nearly a stump and is now grown back nicely.   Chickens will be delighted to gobble them up but they will cause unwanted damage in their efforts.  Stepping on them is tricky but I’ve found by the third jump I win!!

Samantha Nason
BS Ranch & Greenhouses
250 547 6567 • samanthanason@hotmail.com

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