Monday, August 5, 2013

The Hopper Blues

I've got the blues
the hopper blues

Grasshoppers are giving me the blues. These hungry hoppers are munching everything in sight turning my beautiful plants into Swiss cheese.

Look at my poor Hawaiin Ti.  In the spring, this plant was my pride and joy.  It was beautiful.

Now, the grasshopper damage has left it in tatters.  Darned hoppers!

Grasshoppers are equal opportunity plant eaters. Few plants in the garden escape their notice. Whether it's coneflower, meadow sage, coleus, or shrimp plant, the leaf holes are apparent throughout my garden.

Here's one of the culprits.  In the nymph stage, also called an instar, they are actually pretty cute as far as bugs go.  They molt five times from first instar to adult.  Repeatedly shedding your skin, takes a lot of energy, so it's no wonder these little guys hit the ground eating. They start munching shortly after hatching and just keep on going.

Unfortunately, many of them grow into adults with wings.  My chickens find it quite difficult to catch these flyers in their winged state. Still, the girls try their darnedest. A tasty hopper is hard to beat. 

I know from past experience, it's best not to let grasshoppers get to the adult flying stage. They'll just go on to lay more eggs and the whole problem will replay again next year.

At first site of grasshopper nymphs, I  treat with Nosema locustae. Sold as Nolo Bait or Semaspore, I've had very good success with this biological bait. Because the bait is a naturally occurring protozoan that only affects grasshoppers and crickets, it is safe for people, pets and the environment.  

Shown below in the refrigerator, Semaspore Bait will keep longer if kept cool.  Because it's a living biological agent, it has a short shelf life.  Plan to use it by the expiration date, which is stamped on the container.

If you decide to treat with Nosema locustae, do your homework. This bait is slow acting, so don't expect results overnight.  Once the grasshoppers eat the bait, their munching slows down, but it can take weeks to get control.

If grasshoppers are giving you the blues, turn that frown upside down and give grasshopper baits a try.  


  1. Oh, no!
    I've seen a few hoppers around, this summer. Not many, and not doing that kind of damage.
    I'll keep this information in mind, in case things get bad.
    Good luck....

  2. Ugh I know- they are no fun. No fun at all. Thanks for the tip though on the bait.