As the warmest months of the year approach, we Houstonians vividly recall the scorching drought brought on by last Summer. We often take measures to prevent the pests that seek refuge in our homes during times of heavy rain, but there are numerous problem pests that do the most damage during the hottest, driest times of the year. Grasshoppers are on that list.
What causes grasshopper populations to grow?
Late Spring and early Summer are when the masses of grasshopper eggs begin to hatch, and while regular moisture can keep grasshopper populations within reason, droughts like last year's can allow them to grow exponentially. One reason is fungus; without moisture on the ground, fungus can't grow. And since fungus is a natural killer of grasshoppers, the grasshopper populations continue to rise during dry months. Other predators of grasshoppers include certain types of beetles, nematodes, birds, snakes, and even possibly your neighbor's cat. Cilantro is a common "barrier crop" used to protect existing vegetation from grasshopper attacks.
Moreover, grasshoppers travel quickly in great numbers. They can "jump" up to 15 miles per day, meaning they can wreak havoc in one area and move on to the next town in search of more food.
Signs of a grasshopper infestation include:
- Chewed up vegetation, such as holes in grass, plant leaves, lettuce, and other leafy greens and produce
- Dark-colored droppings on or near the damaged plants
- Grasshoppers also eat the tissue of a plant, not just the leaves. This means that plants, fruits, and flowers may not fully develop, assuming they survive a grasshopper attack.
Grasshoppers may not devastate your home's lawn and garden the way they can a commercial field, but protecting yourself can help diminish the damage to your own plants plus the rest of your neighborhood. If you've noticed damage from grasshoppers at your home, try keeping any vegetables or other plants you're growing covered with a mesh cover, allowing light and air to get through but not pests.
If pests are taking over your lawn and home this Spring and Summer, contact the Houston pest exterminators at John Moore Services.