Grasshoppers may be one of the few bugs that I don’t need to describe extensively. Whether you love them or hate them, they are one of the most recognizable insects. They generally have wings and large back hopping legs. Generally, you can differentiate them from crickets by looking at their antennae—cricket antennae are usually long, since they’re nocturnal insects, so they use those long “feelers” to help with walking around.
In small numbers, these insects generally aren’t too harmful to crops. However, in large numbers, they can do a lot of damage to plant leaves, stems, and even fruit. You can recognize their damage by looking for chew marks. Active during the day, they’re usually pretty easy to spot.
These can be active year-round but are seen in larger numbers during warmer months.
Grasshoppers can be found all over the world, except in Antarctica.
Grasshoppers generally don’t favor tomato plants. But if there’s a shortage of food or an inflated population of “hop over grassers,” then tomato plants get added to the menu.
Manual controls are the quickest way to get rid of grasshoppers. If you’re seeing some among your plants, handpick them and either take them to a new location or dispose of them (gardener’s choice for which method you use—may they RIP). For larger populations that are out of control, Nosema locustae is often used. This fungal spore is used by mixing it with some tasty bait (usually a grain of some sort). Unfortunately, it’s not 100 percent effective, but it should get your populations back down to manageable levels.
If you see one grasshopper, don’t panic—remember, tomatoes are not a favorite. Many may just be passing through or even feeding on tender-leaved weeds in your garden. Though large populations can be devastating, a small number of grasshoppers will not only mostly ignore your plants but also keep your immediate ecosystem healthy. Also, some species are drop-dead gorgeous!