2009-MAY -> Organic Pest Management

IMG_2705_revFor the first time this Spring, our Hoop House building became infested with Grasshoppers – probably from eggs laid in the ground last fall.

Because we follow organic standards, we could not simply apply insecticide sprays or powders, but rather had to strategize with IPM (Integrated Pest Management) techniques by introducing a natural predator, or come up with another effective approach.

I decided to first try an insect trapping approach (other than netting which I commonly use) on a broad scale. The photo to the left shows how I cut 4″ x 2′-0″ strips of corrugated cardboard – painted them yellow as a attractant color, and then applying a non-toxic, sticky insect control trapping mastic (from Gemplers).

You can see the effectiveness of this approach from the strip coated with grasshoppers after being left in the Hoop House for two days.

In a period of about three weeks, I have been able to neutralize the grasshopper infestation, and from the size of the trapped grasshoppers, am confident that no new hatchings are taking place.

Smart organic insect control approaches are effective while protecting us from toxic pesticides that are broadly used by commercial agriculture.

Updated 6/15/2009: I have found that when the grasshoppers get larger than 1-1/2″ in length, they are too strong to be held by the trapping mastic. I have used a fly-swatter to stun the grasshoppers, then crush their exo-skeleton, and feed them to my chickens – b.t.w. I have tried putting a few chickens to my hoop house, only to find they were more interested in eating tomatoes than grasshoppers.

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