I've had a severe grasshopper infestation in my farmer's market gardens for the past 3 years. What can I do to control them without spraying some chemical pesticide? I've done the Neem oil thing and you might as well spray the critters with fertilizer. Have not tried soaps, yet? Any validity to them in general? The county agent says we're coming out of a drought and there's been no natural biological soil activity to kill the eggs so we're in a plague situation. I have pasture on 3 sides and a grove of trees on the 4th side of the garden. Excellent grasshopper habitat. They start as leaf hoppers and end up as adults so I'm getting all stages.
I think it's a little late in the season to be effective this year, but Nolo bait is a non-pesticide option. Unfortunately, we're actually in a part of the country that gets the kinds of grasshoppers described as locusts. I don't know if there's anything you can do beyond covering your plants if they travel through.
A slower solution might be to develop your predator habitat. Rock piles and accessible water sources can bring in snakes, lizards, spiders and toads. All of these creatures also are less likely to damage your produce than the average bird.
I recently posted this information on another thread:
"Preventing Problems: Keep grassy weeds controlled, as they are grasshoppers’ preferred host plants. Encourage predation by wild birds and domestic poultry. Provide a moist, grassy spot far from the garden as alternative habitat. In areas where grasshoppers are a major pest, inoculating the soil with Nosema locustae will help limit populations.
Managing Outbreaks: Cover susceptible plants with row cover (garden fleece) or cones or covers made from window screening. Allow chickens to forage in the garden for a short period before dark.
Tips: Guinea hens are considered the ultimate control for grasshopper-plagued gardens."