Grasshoppers . . . . I hate the little beasties. This summer seems a banner year for these dahlia munching menaces. I use organic practices in the garden, and I needed a way to combat grasshoppers without killing bees and butterflies. Maintaining the balance of things is the garden is so important. Luckily, I have assassin bugs and other natural predators, but I also use Nolo bait to kill young grasshoppers. Nolo bait isn’t very effective on adults, but it will stop little, baby grasshoppers in their tracks. This is the brand I buy. I’ve never received any compensation from them except for disappearing grasshoppers, and that’s enough.
Here’s how it works according to an agricultural information sheet from Colorado State University:
“NOLO BAIT may provide suppression of grasshopper and Mormon cricket populations in crop and rangeland. It contains a microsporidial pathogen of grasshoppers. NOLO BAIT infects the fat bodies of most species of grasshoppers and some crickets. Infection and sickness to the grasshoppers from the insect pathogen begins upon ingestion of the bait by the grasshopper. Grasshopper death will begin in 3-6 weeks. The insect pathogen multiplies in infected grasshoppers and will pass from grasshopper to grasshopper and the insect pathogen may remain in the grasshopper population for several years following treatment.”
Oh bummer, pity the little pests. Nolo bait is a biological control and so far, does not seem to hurts other insects or bird populations. Therefore, in my integrated pest management program, Nolo bait makes sense to me at present.
Here’s the rub though, the pathogen is on wheat bran because that is a favorite food of grasshoppers. Being both allergic and intolerant of wheat, I wear gloves when I spread it. Plus, the package says the pathogen can cause skin irritation although I’ve never had that happen. To apply, wet down the leaves of the grasshoppers’ favorite plants. Spread the wheat bran around liberally. Repeat in two weeks. I’ve done two applications, but I was out of town for two weeks so the grasshoppers had a party while I was gone. That’s why I’m doing a third application today.
As for now, the pathogen doesn’t seem to spread to other species. I write that because even organic controls can later become a problem. Also, some organic pesticides are broad spectrum so you should educate yourself before using anything.
In my perennial garden, grasshoppers are a bigger menace than most insects. They devour three of my favorite plants: dahlias, perennial hibiscus and gladiolus along with eating others too. They make neat round holes in the cannas too. These plants round out the summer nicely, and I miss them if they’re gone so out I go to kill more hoppers. I admit a certain glee as I do so.
Nolo bait is also pricey, but losing my plants to the grasshoppers’ constant munching is expensive too.