Do Grasshoppers Eat Tomato Plants? (And Leaves?)

Most gardeners will almost certainly grow tomatoes in their vegetable plot. You can use tomatoes in cooking, making salads, or eating them raw. Dietary fibre and potassium found in tomatoes help decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Unfortunately, some pests appear to enjoy your tomatoes as much as you do. One of the pests you may have already noticed in your garden is the grasshopper. However, you are unsure if it’s another pest or if grasshoppers are the ones consuming your tomatoes. So, you seek clarification: Do grasshoppers eat tomatoes?

It’s a very interesting question and one you need answers to avoid losing your whole tomato crop. After conducting extensive research on grasshopper behavior, favorite foods, and methods of keeping them off your tomato plants, we aim to provide an answer to this question in this article.

Do Grasshoppers Eat Tomato Plants?

Grasshoppers eat tomato plants plus a whole wide range of other plants. They are particularly fond of leaves, stems, and flowers from tomato plants but seem to favor young plants more. Grasshoppers will eat both day and night, meaning you might have no tomato plants within a few days if the grasshopper infestation is large. Most grasshopper species are herbivorous, and they like to eat green vegetation.

The grasshopper’s eggs hatch in late spring and early summer. Although they appear harmless, grasshoppers can seriously destroy your tomato plants. 

Do Grasshoppers Eat Tomato Leaves?

The damage on the leaves is the first sign that grasshoppers are eating your tomato plants. You can readily see that some plants have a few leaves missing or huge holes. Grasshoppers have wide mouths, which significantly destroy the leaves. It is easy for grasshoppers to spread the mosaic virus from one plant to another when they hop from one to the other while eating leaves.

It might be hard to track the grasshopper’s activities as they hide under the leaves during the day to escape predators. They come out at night to feed on the leaves. You will know if it’s grasshoppers feeding on your tomato leaves as they tend to leave dark droppings.

Do Grasshoppers Like Tomato Plants?

Peas, squash, and tomato plants are among the plants that grasshoppers don’t like eating. Only when they have no other option will the grasshoppers eat these plants. If, for instance, there are too many grasshoppers and not enough of the preferred plants- or no other plants nearby, the grasshoppers will ultimately eat the tomato plants.

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Grass, tomatoes, cotton, rice, soybeans, beans, lettuce, carrots, onions, and other vegetables are a few of the plants that grasshoppers prefer to eat.

How To Keep Grasshoppers Off Tomato Plants?

If you take precautions from the moment you plant your tomatoes, grasshoppers will likely keep off the tomato plants. They don’t have a particular preference and will start with the green leaves before moving on to the flowers, fruit, stems, and roots. Grasshoppers can destroy your tomato plants in days, leaving you with no crop to look forward to.

Here are some approaches you can use to keep grasshoppers off tomato plants:

1. Insecticidal soap

Mix six tablespoons of insecticidal soap in a bucket with eight glasses of water. Transfer the mixture to a spray bottle after thoroughly mixing. Spray the mixture on the grasshoppers that are invading your tomato plants. You should reapply every other day.  

2. Plants that repel grasshoppers

You can grow plants that repel grasshoppers along with your tomato plants. The plants’ calendula, horehound, peas, and cilantro repel grasshoppers. Grasshoppers don’t like the smell of these plants and will keep away from any area the plants are found.

3. Baits

You might just get rid of grasshoppers in your tomato garden using bait. Nosema locustae, a naturally occurring microbe, is present in the bait, killing grasshoppers by eating their insides. If other grasshoppers eat the dead grasshopper, they will die.

4. Netting mesh

Grasshoppers will not get near your tomato plants if you use Netting Mesh. The netting mesh will cover your tomatoes, protecting them from the grasshoppers. You will have to keep on checking the netting as grasshoppers have been known to chew through the plastic.  If you use the net mesh, grasshoppers won’t be able to get close to your tomato plants. 

5. Predators

Why not raise some chicken if you live on a farm? You can have eggs for breakfast, and the birds will earn their keep by eating some grasshoppers. Chicken eat the adult grasshoppers and their larvae, eliminating the menace forever. 

Cats are excellent grasshopper predators. Adding bird feeders, bird homes, or bird baths can attract more birds to frequent your yard. Grasshoppers are also eaten by toads, snakes, and praying mantises.

What Do Most Grasshoppers Eat?

There are many grasshopper species, but most are herbivores and will mainly eat plant-based food items. The grasshopper’s main diet consists of anything in the grass family, such as wheat and barley. They are active during the day and will feed mainly at nightfall. They are voracious eaters; on average, a grasshopper can eat about 16 times its body weight. 

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However, grasshoppers can adapt their eating habits according to their environment. Let us see which foods grasshoppers eat according to their habitat;

  • In the wild: They often aren’t discriminative eaters and will eat any vegetables they can get. Mostly grasshoppers favor flowers, leaves, newly sprouted shoots, and grasses.
  • In the desert: Given their limited options, the grasshoppers will eat plants and insects they can find.
  • In captivity: They can consume wheat, corn, and any type of greens, including reed grass and canary grass.
  • Scarcity of greenery: Grasshoppers don’t necessarily go hungry if there aren’t any green plants around. They’ll eat seeds, fungi, bark, other insects, decaying meat, mosses, animal feces, and spider silk in addition to other foods.
  • Nymphs( baby grasshoppers): Nymphs’ digestive systems are still developing; thus, they cannot eat rough vegetables. They eat tender plant parts like grass, cloves, and shoots as food.

How To Remove Grasshoppers From Tomato Plants?

You should find ways to remove grasshoppers from tomato plants if you want a large yield. It would have been preferable if you had put precautions early to keep the grasshoppers away. But not to worry, you can still use the following methods to remove grasshoppers from your tomato plants if you neglect to do so and they are already causing significant damage.

1. Alternative feeds

Giving grasshoppers an alternative food source is one way to remove them from your tomato plants. If you don’t already have grass, you can cultivate it around your garden.

Make sure it’s long enough for grasshoppers to see. Because grasshoppers don’t like tomato plants as a food source, they will move away from them and toward alternative plants.

2. Molasses trap

If you have molasses syrup in your kitchen, you’ll be glad to know that you can use it to remove grasshoppers from your tomato plants. Place the molasses in a jar with water and stir. You can dig a hole that fits your jar’s width and depth near your tomato plants. 

The grasshoppers will jump inside the container as they try to get to the molasses syrup. They’ll become trapped and drown.

3. Beneficial Nematodes

Beneficial nematodes will help you in removing grasshoppers from your tomato plants. The nematodes typically kill plant-eating insects while avoiding beneficial insects. They will therefore eat the grasshoppers that are destroying your tomato plants. 

Using beneficial nematodes as organic pest control in the garden is safe. They are excellent for treating soil and are safe to use around kids and pets. Once you spray them on your garden, they will enter grasshoppers’ bodies through the mouth, the ears or any other opening. 

The bacteria that the nematodes in the grasshopper release will live inside the grasshopper’s digestive system. Within 24 to 48 hours, the bacteria will spread and kill the grasshopper.

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4. Garlic/ Hot pepper spray

Garlic has a strong smell, which makes grasshoppers avoid it, as does pepper. Using the two ingredients to make a spray will help remove grasshoppers from tomato plants.

You’ll have to crush four garlic cloves and your choice of hot pepper, ideally cayenne, for the mixture. Put the two in a pan with 6 cups of water. The mixture should simmer for around 20 minutes, after which it should be taken off the heat and left to cool.

After letting the mixture soak for the entire night, strain it.  Using a hand or pump sprayer, you will use one cup to a gallon of water to spray it on your tomato plants. 

The mixture will coat the plants preventing any grasshoppers from landing on them. After it rains or you water the plants, you might need to re-spray.

5. Dusting with flour

All-purpose flour is all you need for this. The flour is a natural pesticide, interfering with the grasshopper’s digestive system.

You will use the flour to dust the plants, but if you have watered or there was rainfall, you will need to reapply it. Use only all-purpose flour; avoid varieties with sugar, salt, or baking mix additives. These additional substances harm the soil and tomato plants.

Do Grasshoppers Eat Their Mates?

Among the grasshopper species, some males die soon after mating, and the female dies after laying eggs. Therefore, it is untrue that grasshoppers eat their mate. Once they have found their mates, the male mounts the female for a session that could last an entire day or 45 minutes; a female can mate with multiple males in some grasshopper species.

The praying mantis and spiders are the only well-known insects that prey on their partners and snakes.

Can Grasshoppers Be Pets?

Yes, a grasshopper would make a good low-maintenance pet. All you need to do to get a free grasshopper is to catch one. Grasshoppers are simple to keep, feed, and take care of. They’d be an excellent pet for your child because they don’t have to worry about it while in school. All you need for housing is a glass terrarium with a sturdy lid to protect your grasshopper.

Grasshoppers’ diet is pretty simple as they can eat a mixture of local vegetation, be sure to include some fresh fruits and vegetables for a complete diet. But depending on your species, you might need to provide more specific nutritional requirements.

You must thoroughly clean the tank once or twice a month because grasshoppers are highly vulnerable to different illnesses. You shouldn’t use household cleaning chemicals as they can kill your pet. Every day, change the water and take out any uneaten food.

Conclusion

You shouldn’t avoid planting tomatoes in your garden because of grasshoppers. Use the approaches we’ve highlighted; your garden will be free of grasshoppers.

About Stephanie

Stephanie is fond of doing all backyard-related work at her home. She loves to take sunbathe and do a barbecue in her free time. She often shares practical tips and friendly expert advice on everything relating to home and yard on this blog. When she is not writing, she goes camping with her husband and little kids.