Control grasshoper gripes easily

Published 10:01 am Wednesday, May 6, 2009

As summer approaches, more and more homeowners are calling with questions about how to control grasshoppers.

While these pesky insects are more of an annoying pest than damage doers, you may still want to know how to get them out of your flowerbed or garden. Occasionally the population does increase to the point of causing noticeable damage on ornamentals, especially during drought years.

The grasshopper most likely encountered in Alabama landscapes is the Eastern Lubber. A very distinctive grasshopper species, lubbers range in size from 2.5–3.0 inches in length and are generally dull yellow in color with various black markings. Although their preferred habitat is weedy, uncultivated areas, they do occasionally invade homeowner landscapes and feed on amaryllis and other related plants.

As summer progresses, the number of grasshoppers you notice around your home will likely start to increase. Controlling grasshoppers early, before they are full-sized adults, is the best course of control. This particular species of grasshopper lends itself well to non-chemical control (i.e. smash ‘em) because of their large size and slow movement.

Because grasshoppers rarely cause significant damage, chemical control should be used as a last resort. Insecticides used to control grasshoppers also have the potential to kill beneficial insects, such as lady beetles. Should the population increase to the point where chemical control is needed, choose an insecticide containing carbaryl, cyfluthrin or bifenthrin. Even if the lubber is not the particular grasshopper species you are seeing in your home landscape, the same chemical controls are recommended.

For more information, contact the Master Gardener Helpline at 1-877-252-GROW (4769).

Information is from an article from Ellen Huckabay the outreach coordinator for the ACES Home Grounds, Gardens, and Home Pests team.

Nelson Wynn is an regional extension agent serving Shelby County. He can be reached at 669–6763.