Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Have you ever spotted this type of damage on your fruit? Wondered whether it could be caused by grasshoppers?

It’s more likely that you’ve never really thought of this particular insect as a fruit-eating pest. After all, they’re better known for eating grass, leaves, and stems.

We’re here to tell you that this damage is typical of grasshoppers, or it might even be caused by locusts.

Related Articles

Identifying grasshopper damage

First up, when should you be monitoring for potential grasshopper damage on your fruit?

This differs in different climates, and seasonal conditions can also have a dramatic difference on if (or when) they show up.

They can become quite a problem from about mid-summer onwards, but if you’re on the lookout you’ll probably notice when they show up in your garden.

That’s the time to start checking your fruit for potential damage.

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

However, that’s not the only damage to watch for. Grasshoppers can damage fruit, but if they turn up in large enough numbers, they can also devastate whole trees.

Here’s a little plum tree in our orchard that was badly attacked.

Grasshopper damage to leaves on a plum tree
Grasshopper damage to leaves on a plum tree

As bad as it looks, a tree can survive this sort of damage, as long as it happens late enough in the growing season.

That’s because the tree has already done most of its growth for the year. Once your fruit trees stop growing for the season, they can survive more easily without any leaf cover.

The photo below is what this little plum tree looked like the following spring. Since then, it’s continued to grow and become very productive.

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

However, severe damage can kill really young trees. Damage early in the season can also be a death knell if the trees are completely stripped of their leaves.

Can you prevent grasshopper damage?

One way to combat them seems to be to keep the grass cut (or eaten down by animals) under the trees. This removes some of the habitat and protection from predators that they rely on.

But honestly? It can have limited success.

Busy chickens on bug-eating duty on the farm
Busy chickens on earnest bug-eating duty on the farm

The two methods that really work

The first (and probably best) method is to use some animal friends to do what they do best.

Chickens and other poultry just LOVE to eat grasshoppers. But there are a couple of keys to making this technique actually work:

  1. You need to have enough birds to cope with the scale of the problem. There are only so many grasshoppers a chicken can eat, so don’t have unrealistic ideas of how well, or how quickly, they’ll solve your grasshopper problem;
  2. If chickens are allowed to free-range over a wide area, the grasshoppers may not come to their attention. Try to confine the chickens around the affected fruit trees for a brief time;
  3. Consider limiting access to their other food while they’re on grasshopper duty. Obviously, this needs to be short-term and well-managed. Don’t run the risk of starving your chickens! (Find some simple guidelines about what to feed your chickens here). But they’re more likely to be keenly hunting if their bellies aren’t already full when they start their shift.

Done properly, poultry can help to clear up a grasshopper problem very quickly. This is a great example of the many fabulous ways that animals can be key partners in your garden.

And the last grasshopper control method…

The last method is netting.

Regular bird netting won’t work, because the holes are generally too big.

In Victoria, it was mandated in late 2021 that all fruit tree netting must have holes smaller than 5mm in diameter. This will probably be small enough to exclude most grasshoppers.

And if you’re already netting for fruit fly, which has smaller holes again, then you’ll never be bothered by grasshoppers eating your fruit, or your fruit trees.

A grasshopper sitting on wood
Grasshoppers won’t be a problem if you’re already netting your fruit trees

Related Articles

Get our FREE ebook – 10 Key Steps to Growing Great Fruit

This useful ebook will give you answers to all the topics you need to know, from pests to pruning, and it’s completely free!

You'll soon be enjoying abundant harvests.

When you download the ebook, you'll also get our free Weekly Fruit Tips newsletter to help you stay on track with the little jobs that keep your trees healthy and fruitful.

Just hit "Get my ebook!" to download your free copy.

You have Successfully Subscribed!