Managing Grasshoppers without Poisons

Nolo Bait is not a poison. It is a parasite that only affects grasshoppers and Mormon Crickets. It will not harm people, pets, wildlife or beneficial insects. It is most effective on small grasshoppers. In 3-4 weeks up to 50% of the grasshopper population will die. In addition, their eggs will be infected for the following season, and because grasshoppers are cannibalistic, they spread the disease. Put out shallow trays of the bran bait in small quantities. Wind, rain and contact with soil organisms can reduce bait available to grasshoppers.

Ducks, chickens, turkeys and guinea fowl can significantly reduce grasshopper populations. They must be fenced and put inside a safe structure every night to protect them from predators. They will also eat some plants, like vegetables.

Wild birds like blackbirds, sparrows, magpies etc can help reduce grasshopper populations. Putting out birdbaths or other shallow trays of water will attract them. Put water where birds can see cats. Feeding birds with suet in winter and other times attract insect-eating birds.

Mowing the perimeters of neighboring dry fields and lots makes a barrier nearest your property that grasshoppers are less likely to cross. An area 15-20 feet wide can help.

Build a grasshopper fence that prevents grasshoppers from crawling or jumping into your yard. Attach shade cloth from the ground up and put an obstruction along the top like metal gutter or sticky barrier. Even without the top obstruction, physical barriers 4’ high or completely covering plants help. Row cover (Remay) placed over plants or rows and weighted on the edges help.

Neem is a non-toxic biological insecticide, fungicide and bactericide that can reduce grasshopper populations. Not all formulations of Neem work; it must contain the active ingredient azadiractin, which is removed in some formulations. It functions as an anti-feedant (making plants distasteful), as a repellant (they don’t like how it smells) and as a molting disruptor (if they eat plants sprayed with Neem, they cannot molt and grow to the next larger size.

Other repellants and non-toxic sprays can help: garlic, hot pepper, rosemary, eucalyptus, etc. Even fly swatters can be helpful.