Get ready for lots of grasshoppers in Montana this year.

I'm not particularly squeamish regarding bugs, but I hate grasshoppers with a passion. Sure, mosquitos and yellowjackets are annoying, and I worry about invasive pests like the Emerald Ash Borer, but the pesky grasshopper can cause so much devastation in Montana gardens. More financially concerning are the damages grasshoppers cause to Montana farms and ranches.

Read More: If You See This Invasive Bug in Montana, Take Action

Credit USDA
Credit USDA
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Grasshoppers are voracious eaters.

Montana Public Radio noted in a report in January that 30 pounds of grasshoppers can consume as much as a 600-pound cow each day. Wow. The Montana State University Extension Office classifies grasshopper densities higher than 15 per square yard as the "economic threshold" for crops and grassland. As indicated in the graphic above, huge portions of central and eastern Montana are predicted to exceed this level of grasshopper density in 2024.

44.5 million acres in the US are expected to have large grasshopper populations this spring and summer, with pockets scattered throughout the west. Nebraska, Colorado, and Washington could have hotspots too, but Montana is predicted to have the biggest grasshopper problem in the United States this year.

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Credit Canva
Credit Canva
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What can we do?

Not much. An extended cold, wet spring (as seen in 2023) can help reduce grasshopper populations. Farmers and ranchers can apply pesticides to help protect their crops. For the average home gardener hoping to avoid nasty chemicals, there are a few natural solutions that offer various levels of success.

Grasshoppers dislike hot pepper and garlic. Credit Canva
Grasshoppers dislike hot pepper and garlic. Credit Canva
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I've tried spraying a homemade concoction of hot pepper powder mixed with water on my garden plants before (it didn't seem to help very much) and neem oil is another recommendation. Wasps are one of grasshopper's natural predators and a flock of free-range chickens or guinea hens can eat hundreds of grasshoppers daily. If your garden is small or you have raised beds, bug netting may be another option for protecting your produce.

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