General Information

Grasshoppers are common, easily-identifiable insects that are well-known for their long legs and jumping skills. However, if you have too many of them, they can wreak havoc on your garden or field. Understanding their habits can help you decide whether you need to take steps to get rid of them.

What Are Grasshoppers?

Image via Unsplash by Gouthaman Raveendran

Grasshoppers are medium- to large-sized insects that are widely known for their impressive jumping abilities. They belong to the class Insecta and are classified under the Orthoptera order, which contains crickets, locusts, and katydids.

What Do Grasshoppers Look Like?

A grasshopper’s size varies depending on its species, although it typically ranges from 0.5 inches to nearly 3 inches. Females are typically larger than males. They can be a variety of different colors depending on their species, although most are gray, green, or brown. Some male grasshoppers are more colorful in order to attract mates. They typically have large eyes, and their color allows them to blend into the environment. Some grasshoppers can change color as well as behavior and form swarms. When this occurs, they are typically known as locusts.

The grasshopper has three main body parts: the head, thorax, and abdomen, accompanied by six legs, two antennae, and two pairs of wings. Its antennae are surprisingly long; in some cases, they are larger than its entire body. Its six legs are also incredibly powerful, giving it the ability to jump great distances. The back legs are used only for jumping, while the front four are used for holding onto prey and for helping it to walk.

Where Do Grasshoppers Live?

There are over 10,000 different species of grasshoppers around the world, and they can be found on every continent but Antarctica. Grasshoppers typically prefer dry open habitats that have a lot of grass, their primary source of food, and other plants, although some species of grasshoppers live in jungles and forests.

Problems With Grasshoppers

Because grasshoppers are herbivores, they eat grasses and the stems and leaves of plants. Though a few grasshoppers alone may not cause problems, when large numbers of grasshoppers encroach upon garden areas and farms, they can cause significant damage and loss to plant life. In fact, a large number of grasshoppers can consume entire fields of crops.

While grasshoppers feed on a variety of different types of plants, they often prefer small grains, soybeans, rice, grasses, tobacco, clover, corn, and cotton. They also may feed on other vegetables like lettuce, carrots, and onions, although they usually avoid tomato leaves, squash, and peas. Ultimately, the more grasshoppers that are present, the more plants they will consume, regardless of whether the plants are their preferred type.

Grasshopper Control Solutions

It can be challenging to control grasshoppers. They don’t make nests, so you can’t approach them in the same way that you would ants. If you’re not dealing with an active infestation of grasshoppers, you can often prevent problems in the future by tilling the ground in the mid- to late-summer months. By tilling the ground, you will disturb the soil where the female grasshoppers lay eggs. Early spring tilling can often destroy eggs that the female grasshopper laid the summer before.

If you’re dealing with problem grasshoppers in your garden, try covering the plants that they tend to go after the most with a cheesecloth. Remove weeds as much as possible, since they will become food for the young grasshoppers. Additionally, encourage birds in your garden area as much as possible, since they can help keep the grasshoppers under control.

If you’re facing major problems with grasshoppers, you may want to consider choosing a professional who can use both chemical and biological measures to keep the population of grasshoppers on your property from exploding. If you need to manage an active infestation of grasshoppers, some insecticides can help to kill them off rapidly. However, it’s best to work with a professional who can customize a plan that’s safest for your area.

Common Grasshopper Questions

Grasshoppers are fascinating creatures when they aren’t creating problems swarming fields. Here are some of the most common questions people have about them.

Can Grasshoppers Hurt People?

Not usually. While they can cause serious damage to fields when they swarm, they don’t usually bite people. That said, there are some species of grasshoppers that may bite if they’re swarming. They also may bite someone if they feel threatened. While their bite isn’t venomous, it could cause discomfort since they have strong jaws for their size. They also have spikes on the back of their hind legs, and if you catch one of these spikes, they can cause skin irritations or minor injuries. Another defense mechanism is defensive regurgitation. While not harmful, it can stain your skin.

What Preys on Grasshoppers?

The primary predators of grasshoppers are mice and other rodents, spiders, insects like the mantis, birds, frogs, and reptiles. Humans also eat grasshoppers in some parts of the world.

How Long Do Grasshoppers Live?

The lifespan of a grasshopper is very short, particularly because they have so many predators. An adult grasshopper’s lifespan depends on their eating behavior. If the grasshopper has a more limited number of food sources, then it will typically die much sooner than a grasshopper that feeds on a variety of plants. Generally, grasshoppers live only up to three months.

What Are Grasshoppers Good For?

While they can be a nuisance for farmers and gardeners, grasshoppers do contribute to the environment. Their droppings act as a fertilizer, and they are a primary source of food for other creatures, helping those populations to survive.

If you are facing a grasshopper infestation in your area that’s damaging crops or plants, then it’s time to speak with a professional. We can help you rid your property of grasshoppers and reclaim the space for yourself.

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