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Gardening with Laurie: It's time to hop on the grasshopper problem

By By Laurie Garretson
May 3, 2012 at 12:03 a.m.

Laurie Garretson

Being gardeners, we realize there are sometimes obstacles. I feel the biggest obstacle has to be the weather. This is something all gardeners just have to deal with. I think insects would be another big obstacle for all gardeners. The good thing is that we can do something about them.

One of the many pests that are notorious for causing lots of damage in our gardens IS grasshoppers. If left alone, they can easily destroy a garden in no time. One of the most convenient and effective means to get rid of these pests without resorting to something toxic is to use Semaspore Bait.

Toward the end of summer, and into the fall if temperatures stay warm, female grasshoppers find grassy areas to deposit their eggs. Each female lays approximately 200 to 400 eggs. Warm dry conditions like this past fall and winter are favorable for higher hatching rates.

Semaspore Bait is non-toxic to pets, humans, livestock, wild animals, birds and fish. Semaspore Bait contains Nosema locustae spores that are applied to wheat bran with a sweetener. This bait attracts many different types of grasshoppers and black field crickets, as well as other types of crickets and locusts.

Applying the Semaspore to grassy areas as grasshoppers are hatching is the ideal time to treat them. The bait is most effective on young grasshoppers.

Peak hatching times usually last four to seven weeks, with the rate increasing with the temperature. Because of the warm, dry fall and winter season we had last year, this year's hatchings will probably be of greater numbers.

Grasshoppers are attracted to the bran because of the high protein content. Once the bait is ingested, the hoppers are infected with the Nosema. As the Nosema grows and reproduces inside the hoppers, it begins to destroy cells.

This then leads to sickly grasshoppers that don't eat and soon die. Other grasshoppers will eat the dead infected ones, which will then infect them. All pregnant grasshoppers will have infected eggs.

If you have had problems with grasshoppers in years past, the odds are very good that they will be back in force this season. Waiting too long after you first notice a problem gives the hoppers growing time. Older grasshoppers are much harder to kill.

Treating hatching areas will eliminate larger numbers of young hoppers and reduce migrations to your landscape or crops. A second application applied a few weeks later can help for heavily infected areas. Treating now while they are hatching is the most effective means to begin lessening the grasshopper population in your area.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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