Battling Eastern Lubber Grasshoppers in Florida: Tips to Protect Your Plants

On Florida’s Gulf Coast, Eastern lubber grasshoppers are causing concern for gardeners as they hatch and grow to a whopping three inches long. This time of year, they’re particularly active, wreaking havoc on plants.

According to Tia Silvasy, an extension agent from UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, these grasshoppers start as tiny black caterpillars hatching in spring, typically around March or April.

As they progress through five phases, they grow significantly, reaching adult size by mid-summer. By July and August, they’re at their peak, munching away on plants.

These grasshoppers have a particular fondness for plants like Crinum lilies, Amaryllis, and broadleaf vegetables such as kale and citrus. Protecting your plants from them can be challenging due to their size and ability to detoxify natural toxins.

While insecticides can be used, they may not always be effective against these resilient insects. Instead, a simple yet effective method is to manually remove them by knocking them into a bucket of soapy water, which will kill them.

Battling Eastern Lubber Grasshoppers in Florida: Tips to Protect Your Plants

Silvasy also suggests following integrated pest management (IPM) practices, which involve maintaining a healthy garden environment to attract natural predators like birds, which can help control the grasshopper population.

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Additionally, using the least toxic pest controls first and following label instructions when using insecticides is crucial for effective pest management.

By being proactive and implementing these strategies, gardeners can protect their plants from the damaging effects of Eastern lubber grasshoppers and maintain a thriving garden throughout the season.

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