If you still have fruit on your trees this summer, you may have seen this type of damage on it.

It’s caused by grasshoppers (or more unusually, locusts), which can become quite a problem from about mid-summer onward.

A locust on the window of our packing shed
A locust on the window of our packing shed

They can also eat leaves quite badly, as you can see from this devastated little plum tree.

Leaves stripped from a young plum tree by grasshoppers´╗┐
Leaves stripped from a young plum tree by grasshoppers

As bad as it looks, a tree can survive this damage late in the season, because it’s already done most of its growing for the year. This damage happened a couple of years ago to this plum tree, and it came back in full leaf the following year, and has continued to grow and become very productive.

Plum tree recovered after grasshopper damage
Plum tree recovered after grasshopper damage

However severe damage can also kill really young trees, or if the trees are completely stripped of leaves too early in the season.

So the next question is, is there any way to prevent the damage?

One way to combat them seems to be keeping the grass cut (or eaten down by animals) under the trees, but this can have limited success.

A chicken on earnest bug eating duty on the farm
A chicken on earnest bug eating duty on the farm

The best method is to use some animal friends to do what they do best!

Chickens and other poultry just LOVE to eat grasshoppers, so if you can confine them around your fruit trees, even for a brief time, they can help to clear up a grasshopper problem very quickly.

This is just one of the ways that animals can be really useful to help you successfully grow organic food. We’ve put together a short course called Fruit Tree Care for Animal Lovers to help you explore all the ways you can go into partnership with your pets to grow better food.