There are more than 10,000 species of grasshoppers around the world on every continent except Antarctica.
Depending on the species, this insect can be about half an inch long or almost 3 inches long. Females are typically larger than males.
Grasshoppers have two sets of wings, short antennae, and large eyes. Their long, heavily muscled hind legs help them jump.
They come in different colors, but most are either brown, green, or gray. Some males are more colorful so they can attract mates.
They’re most active during the day. Because they don’t have nests or territories, they spend much of this time migrating to find food. Most species are solitary, but some gather in huge groups.
Most grasshoppers live in dry areas with lots of grass and other low plants, but they can also live in other environments like jungles, forests, or wetlands.
They eat plants, mostly grasses. Some types of grasshoppers, particularly in Africa and Asia, are agricultural pests that eat crops.
They’re all herbivores, though it’s possible for them to bite you.
Grasshoppers don’t usually bite people. But some types that gather in large swarms may bite when swarming. Other types of grasshoppers may bite people if they feel threatened.
Grasshoppers aren’t poisonous, and their bites aren’t dangerous to people. But they do have strong jaws! It could be temporarily painful.
If you’re bitten by a grasshopper, you can follow these first aid steps:
- Remove anything the grasshopper may have left in the bite.
- Gently clean the area with soap and water.
- If there’s any swelling, place a cold compress or ice pack on the bite, and elevate the affected area.
- If the bite is painful, take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen (Advil).
- If the bite is itchy, try applying calamine lotion or another anti-itch lotion.
- Avoid scratching the area until the bite heals.
Any symptoms from a grasshopper bite should go away within a few days.
In general, grasshoppers don’t pose any danger to people, pets, or your home. But if they feel threatened, they do have a few defense mechanisms that can be an annoyance.
When grasshoppers are threatened, they release what’s known as “defensive regurgitation,” but you might call it grasshopper spit. It’s a fluid they release from their mouths that contains partially digested plants and digestive enzymes.
Sometimes this spit is called “tobacco juice” because of its color and consistency. It can temporarily stain your skin, but otherwise it isn’t dangerous to humans.
Grasshoppers have spikes on the back of their jumping (hind) legs. If you catch a grasshopper, it may kick and dig these spikes into you. This isn’t dangerous but can irritate your skin or cause minor injuries.
Grasshoppers live in most climates and travel long distances, so you’ll likely find some outside your house.
While all grasshoppers eat plants, some kinds specifically feed on the types of plants or vegetables you may have on your lawn or in your garden.
Grasshoppers mostly stay outside, but they don’t like very cold or very wet weather. Because of this, they may come inside your house in the winter or when it rains.
To prevent grasshoppers from getting in your garden or in your house, you can try the following methods:
- Mow a short border around your lawn. Because this doesn’t leave much for grasshoppers to eat, it may keep them away.
- Plant plants that attract grasshoppers, such as zinnias, around the edge of your garden. This can help keep grasshoppers at the outer edge of the garden.
- Spray insecticide around the border of your yard to keep grasshoppers from coming in.
The best way to get rid of grasshoppers is to target the breeding sites where their eggs hatch. May or June is the best time to do this.
Insecticides will help you get rid of grasshoppers, but you’ll likely need more than one application. You can mix an insecticide with canola oil or bran to help attract grasshoppers to it.
There are also natural insecticides, such as spinosad, which will work on grasshoppers. If you use insecticide, be sure to follow all the directions and precautions on the packaging.
Another way to get rid of grasshoppers is to use Nosema locustae, a microbe that causes disease in grasshoppers. You can buy Nosema locustae spores mixed with bran or other bait and use them to infect and kill grasshoppers.
You can also get rid of grasshoppers by hand. Since they’re usually solitary, you may only have a couple in your yard or home.
If you feel comfortable with this method, you can pick them off plants by hand and put them in a bucket of soapy water, which will kill them. Be sure to pick them up gently to avoid being bitten or attacked with their spiky legs.
Grasshoppers are common insects throughout the world. They may harm your lawn or garden, but they rarely hurt humans unless they feel threatened.
If they do feel threatened, they may bite, kick, or regurgitate. But insecticides and even just mowing a border around your lawn can help keep grasshoppers out.