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The City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County have received many calls concerning a mass emergence of grasshoppers in the far southwest and southeast areas of the county. Large numbers of grasshoppers can be bothersome, but they do not pose a health danger. Grasshoppers feed on plants and are an important part of our ecosystem. Although birds, lizards, and other insects feed on grasshoppers, they have little impact on reducing large grasshopper populations.

Cause of Grasshopper Infestation

The likely cause of the large numbers of grasshoppers is a warm dry winter. Grasshoppers normally feed on native vegetation in the natural spaces throughout the county. However, dry conditions and lack of food are driving them into developed areas where vegetation is receiving supplemental watering.

Although they are not known to damage ornamental vegetation, grasshoppers may feed on almost any green plant when their typical food source is not available. Check your landscape plants for signs of grasshopper feeding. Leaves will be ragged and will show obvious feeding damage. Large, well established plants will often be able to tolerate feeding damage with little or no treatment. Newly planted landscape or garden plants may require protection. Grasshoppers prefer young green plants, especially lettuce, beans, corn, carrots, onions and some flowering annuals.

Grasshopper Control Measures

Here are some control measures that can be taken to prevent grasshopper damage to your garden or landscape plants.

· If numbers are manageable, they can be removed by hand.

· Protective mesh covers can provide protection when used to cover plants. It should be noted that grasshoppers may chew through cloth or plastic mesh. Metal screens may be more effective.

· Targeted pesticide use can effectively eliminate grasshoppers currently on your property; however pesticides should be combined with other preventative measures for effective long-term control. Re-invasion of the property following a pesticide treatment is likely during a large infestation. When using pesticides, always follow label directions.

· Eliminate sites where grasshoppers might lay their eggs by pulling weeds and removing unnecessary vegetation.

· Tilling soil in the fall can effectively kill grasshopper eggs and reduce Spring populations.

For More Information:

Access New Mexico State University’s Manual of the Grasshopper of New Mexico: