We had a terrible infestation of grasshoppers last year. What can we do to stave off these pests?
Grasshoppers eat a wide range of plants and are tough to control. The key is attacking them while they’re still small. Once they mature and get big, control is difficult. You can go with traditional pesticides or with organic solutions. I’ll provide examples of each.
1. Traditional pesticides — The advantage of these is that they work quickly and have a long residual action, so you don’t have to repeat applications to plants that often. The disadvantage is that they can be toxic to you if you don’t apply them carefully and get them on your skin. Two options here — apply a product containing Orthene (acephate), which is a systemic insecticide. The plant absorbs it and any insect feeding on the plant dies. Use systemics only on non-edibles. Another option is Bayer Advanced Triple Action Insect Killer. It works on many different insects and is widely available. Follow label directions carefully.
2. Organic solutions — These are generally less toxic to humans and pets and safe to use around the house. Hot pepper wax can be an effective repellent, as its active ingredient is cayenne pepper, which makes foliage unappetizing (except, of course, if the bugs come from Thailand or India). The wax component gives a longer residual action. Wear gloves when applying it and don’t rub your eyes or the tears will flow like A-Rod’s. You can also try diatomaceous earth, a powder that is made up from the tiny shells of microscopic sea creatures called diatoms. The powder feels soft to us, but it cuts up an insect’s exoskeleton and the bug dehydrates and dies. The only disadvantage to this is that you must reapply it following a rain.
The links will take you to websites where you can order these organic products through the mail. You can also get them at many home and garden centers. Both work against numerous insects other than grasshoppers.