Ask Burton: This week, we’re looking at grasshoppers, and some of the best ways to control them. Q: I live a little out of town, and grasshoppers are a problem. They love to eat my cannas each and every summer, but some years, it’s like they’ll leave all of my shrubs looking nibbled. How can I head this off this year?

A: Most lawn and garden pests tend to concentrate on a handful of plant types to feed upon, but grasshoppers are notable because they feed on such a wide range of trees and ornamental plants. People who live near wild areas, somewhere outside of town, or near greenbelts tend to face the brunt of their feeding, but they can do damage in town too. There’s more than one method of control.
• Nolo Bait – An organic control, Nolo Bait is a formulation of a disease that is lethal to grasshoppers, spread on to wheat flakes. The bait kills younger pests quite well; older insects still can die, although more slowly, and their feeding is reduced substantially by the presence of the disease in their gut. A single pound of this pesticide goes a long way! Try to put this material out before the middle of July for the best control. This is a good control if you have pets or sensitivities. (Back in stock soon)
• Permethrin – A good choice for a general purpose grasshopper spray, it’ll quickly knock down grasshoppers in a treated area. Apply it as Bonide Eight as a hose-end spray. Has a short residual effect before it wears off. Can be used in the vegetable garden as a control.
• Acephate – Good for longer control, it’s absorbed systemically to provide protection to parts of the plant you may have missed. This pesticide can not be used on food crops. Apply it as Bonide Systemic Insect Spray to all parts of the plant you can reach. (This is my favorite quick control on cannas when the grasshoppers are rampaging.)

 Burton specializes in diagnosing and solving plant problems. If you have a question for Burton, please email him at and include photos showing the problem.