Grasshoppers are fantastic to watch as they hop from one leaf to another with their enormously long legs. They have wings as well which allow them to go great distances but what is most remarkable is the ‘song’ that the male grasshoppers make by rubbing their back legs together. Apparently this is to help them attract a mate.
Grasshoppers are divided into ‘long horned’ and ‘short horned’ varieties which refers to the length of their antennae. They have long legs and wings that sit flat on their body. Their colouring differs depending on their species but mostly in the garden, they are either brown to blend in with the bark of trees, or bright green so that they are camouflaged when they are sitting on a leaf.
Whilst a small number of grasshoppers eat other insects, making them good bugs, most will eat plant material. They have rasping teeth and usually start chewing into the middle of a life, sometimes not all the way through, and it is this that gives a pretty good clue that it was a grasshopper that had a chew on your vegetables before you did.
Although there are commercial sprays that can be used in the garden to kill grasshoppers, there are organic methods as well. If you have chickens in the garden, let them go for a roam around as there is nothing funnier than watching a chook chase grasshoppers as they hop around in front of them. You can catch them yourself with a bug net too but do this early in the morning as this is when grasshoppers are at their laziest.
Grasshoppers are attracted to the colour yellow so yellow sticky paper (available at garden centres) hanging over the vegie patch is a great idea. Alternatively, make a trap by digging a hole in the ground and putting a bucket in it so the top is about level with the soil. Fill this with water and put in a tablespoon of molasses (the sweetness attracts the grasshoppers) and float a piece of yellow plastic on the top as well. Add a little bit of canola oil as this will put a skin on the water to deter mozzies from laying their eggs. Change the water every now and then to keep the trap fresh.
A few grasshoppers in the garden are not a big problem but when there is a plague, watch out! They can do a lot of damage and the result will be that you are hopping mad!
Grasshoppers mostly chew holes in the middle of the leaves and work their way out.