GROW: The Book
Last year I only saw a few but this year they are in everything, making my garden look ragtag. I've been spraying with Neem Oil but they seem to be coming back even stronger. HELP!
Build a chicken moat around your garden. It’s basically kinda like a dog run for chickens that surrounds your garden and the coop is attached as part of the moat. I also have a companion duck that follows me in the garden and she stays on my heels because she has learned that I will show her to the bugs and flip the bug boards over so she can pounce on any bugs, slugs, or snails hiding underneath. Ducks don’t scratch like chickens and are far more interested in the bugs than the plants (put bug boards in the chicken moat as well and flip them daily or weekly depending on how many bugs and slugs you have). If you have a problem with a particular crop/pest, plant a small sacrificial patch outside your garden (which is also outside your chicken moat), and when the crop gets attacked by the bugs, unleash all your chickens, all at once, on the afflicted patch, and sit back and enjoy watching your chickens wipe out the pests that fell for your cunning trap... lifecycle interrupted... problem solved. Garter snakes will eat grasshoppers, bug, slugs, and snails. Frogs, lizards, etc. will also eat grasshoppers. Plastic bird netting slows down all bugs (careful, it will also stop pollinators). Look around, observe nature, learn about your local pests and the predators of those pests and figure out a way to attract and increase the insect predators you like so they out compete the ones you don’t like. It’s a Taoist approach to gently directing nature in your favor vs the futility of trying to fight it. Nature always wins and wants balance, give it the balance you prefer and you both win.
I just pulled the following from a gardening article:
An alternative approach for these pests includes the use of a naturally occurring microbe called Nosema locustae.
Read more at Gardening Know How: What Causes Holes In Hosta Leaves – Preventing Holes In Leaves Of Hosta https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/foliage/hosta/holes-in-hosta-leaves.htm
For a couple of years grasshoppers were really bad here also. Practically destroyed my garden. Last fall I bought 12 guinea keets and raised them over the winter. I heard they were great for getting rid of grasshoppers and many other pests. It really has worked. My garden itself is fenced off, but the guineas are free range during the day and so they have access all around the outside of the fence. We still have a few grasshoppers in the garden, but not enough to worry about. Some people don't like guineas, but I actually really like them. They can be loud. It's not bad, though.
I'm sad to hear that neem doesn't work.
Good luck and let us know how it goes!
In a short answer...chickens. Or catching them in the morning early while they are a bit slower. On my old home place the large chicken enclosure was in the garden so I would stick them through the fence and they would come running to take it from me. Other than that I know of nothing organic. If you can apply Nolo(so?) bait in the Spring it can reduce numbers.
I second @circleoflifeunlimited 's method. We saw a huge reduction in all of our insects.
Do guinea scratch up stuff as much as chickens do and peck into the occasional tomato or such?
No, the guineas do not scratch. They are bug eaters, so are always busy foraging for bugs. I fed them a grain based organic ration over the winter, but as soon as it warmed up and there were lots of bugs around I hardly fed them. They LOVE millet so I lure them into their coop just before dark with a little organic millet. They are kind of wild and don't like to get too close to people.
They are fenced out of the garden, so not sure if they would peck on tomatoes.
I've heard that guineas get rid of tic populations (which we don't have), and also flea infestations. Pretty amazing.
I only have one negative comment about them. They tend to wander far from the barn/farm area during the day and little by little they are being eaten by predators. Slowly their numbers have dwindled and last night the last two did not come in at dusk. Am seriously considering getting a new batch of babies so we have some for next year.
Sorry to hear about the losses. That makes it rough. I think they are worth it. I remember as a child my parents had some and they have such a distinctive sound. I can still hear them in my memories.
We have an over abundance of grasshoppers as well. They are eating everything! I finally let my chickens into the orchard because the grasshoppers are destroying my best apple tree. But I can't let them in my garden area, they will eat everything the grasshoppers leave. Guineas are not an option for us.
Any other suggestions?
Again, 👍to everything @circleoflifeunlimited said. Ticks are their candy, so yes, they do clean those up.
Thank you all for your helpful comments. @seeker.nancy I had heard that guineas do not bother the plants in the garden other than eating the bugs off them. I will have to research that some more to be sure. My garden is not fenced, but we do plan to do that next year.
The neem oil is supposed to mess with their digestive system and stop them from eating and it's supposed to confuse them so that they don't mate and lay eggs. So far, their eating habits have not been curtailed but I'm hopeful that they won't lay eggs and give me even more of them to deal with next year. They say that rototilling in the spring will expose the egg sacks so they won't hatch. I have raised beds in my garden so it's a little hard to rototill.
The guineas do sound like a possible good solution. Thank you @circleoflifeunlimited for that information. I'll have to study up on them.
Has anyone ever tried something I saw in an old gardening pamphlet once - putting live grasshoppers in old blender with water, and then grinding them up. Then spraying that on the plants. The theory in the gardening book was that the hoppers would let off some type of scent as they passed and the spray would warn off other hoppers. If you tried it, let us know whether you saw any results from it.
I have tried for general pest control, putting tomato leaves in 2 liter soda bottle, letting it brew in sun, then cooling in the shade and spraying that on plants. It did not hurt anything, but hard to say if it did any good.
wow, that's interesting... I think scent would be a big deal for grasshoppers?
@Marjory Wildcraft Sorry Marjory, that image looks too much like those images of people getting ready to eat them! (I'm sure you've seen the ads and articles promoting insect protein.)😂
@Marjory Wildcraft One of my friends in high school went to Germany during the summer, and brought back a can of fried grasshoppers he got in a store there. He offered me one, so I tried it. It really wasn't too bad. They reminded me a little of fried pork rinds. Just more compact.
@pamelamackenzie spraying the plants with ground up grasshoppers sounds interesting. I wonder how you go about catching them? The grasshoppers here are pretty fast to jump away when I try to catch them.
I am thinking an insect net. Probably takes some practice. The dragonfly photographers I have watched do a quick swish over the insect and then quickly reverse direction, then grab and close net. Maybe have someone scare them to jump while you catch them.
Go out early in the morning, they are slower then. They generally overnight parallel with a stem about their size.
You might check to see if there is a variety of Bascillus thuringiensis that works on grasshoppers. B. thuringiensis is a naturally occurring soil bacteria.
@Lisa K I actually use BT but it only works on catepillars. It didn't phase the grasshoppers.
LOL @pamelamackenzie after reading your comment, I had a hilarious visual of me jumping and twirling around my raised bed garden, with a butterfly net, trying to catch the grasshoppers! A little like playing tennis but with obstacles in the way. Maybe it would catch on and become a real sport! Or a gardeners exercise routine to increase hand and eye coordination. Tee Hee! 😊
@cre8tiv369 Wow! Thanks for all the great info! I had actually thought about getting a duck. The chicken moat is an interesting idea, but I would have to fence in about an acre of land if I wanted to include the fruit trees, elderberries, blueberries, strawberries, roses, grape and kiwi vines. I always see frogs in the garden and I even saw a couple of praying mantises for the first time, but I guess the hoppers overwhelm them too much.
This won't be helpful, but I couldn't resist sharing: I recently witnessed a mother roadrunner feeding her young a giant grasshopper. I thought how nice it was for her to get rid of my bugs for me -- I would have been jumping up and down cheering if I was in your situation.
@shllnzl Nice going! I looked up info about Nosema Locustae and it sounds perfect! Organic and safe around everything but grasshoppers and crickets. Thank you so much for the suggestion! Looks like it's out of stock until spring now, so it won't help this years crops but you can bet I'll be using it next year!
@Leslie Carl Glad I could help. I thought of you when I came across the info.