I saw a grasshopper yesterday. There were a few holes in the leaves of one of my plants. Yep, he was getting fed.
"Where have you been?" I asked. I had not seen grasshoppers this year.
There was no answer. Just a soft look.
I started thinking about the fun my friends and I had with grasshoppers. We watched them jump. We chased after them. We put them in jars. We watched them eat with their weird shaped mouths. We gave them pet names. Although they feasted on some of the plants in Grandma's garden, they were ignored and considered part of nature. I don't remember her ever spraying bug spray. I think I wore some repellent, though, when I picked green beans. Enough is enough.
"What good are they?" I recently asked myself. I had been reading a book entitled. Bringing Nature Home Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants.
It connects native insects with native plants. It is important to have some native plants, the plants that came with America not transported from other countries. Insects cannot eat foreign plants. That may sound good, but if we don't have a balance of insects, our ecological system will change for the worst. I am learning to appreciate insects and not let them bug me, but to see them all as valuable in some way. Too many of one species can mess up our gardens. If we let insects take their natural course, it will balance with our trees, plants and soil...all of nature.
I sat on my porch this morning and pondered. I pondered the millions of insects from microscopic in the soil and under rocks, in the air, on the flowers. I thrive on seeing the bees and butterflies. Planting native plants in my gardens has been instrumental in bringing them in. I have stopped reaching for the bug killer....unless some imbalance appears, and then I trump with the "human" card. It takes some wisdom and knowledge from books and my Master Gardener friends. I will destroy Japanese Beetles. They are foreign and should not be in my native plants. I might mention that the Ash Borers and other foreign species can come in and kill all of one species of trees. They are hard to kill. There are so many and they bore into the trees and hide under the bark. I found that it is native to Asia and thought to have arrived in the United States in solid wood packing material from its native Asia. We need to know about invasive plants and insects and stand guard.
So let's look at the lowly grasshopper again. What good is he besides putting on a good side show for kids? And chewing up leaves? And making brown spittle? (I looked at https://animals.mom.me)
"While grasshoppers can do significant damage to a farmer's crops, without these insects the ecosystem would be a much different place. They play a critical role in the environment, making it a safer and more efficient place for plants and other animals to thrive."
1. The grasshopper benefits humans and the ecosystem in general by breaking down plants so they can grow better into the types of plants that thrive.
2. Just like any other insect or animal, grasshoppers excrete waste after eating. The waste fertilizes the soil which facilitates plant growthThat waste is highly beneficial for fertilizing the soil and facilitating plant growth.
3. While the grasshopper may not appreciate this particular role that he plays in the ecosystem, he is a vital source of food for predators in the wild. He feeds creatures like spiders, birds, lizards and more, allowing them to survive and fulfill their own roles in maintaining a healthy, vibrant ecosystem.
4. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, grasshoppers generally consume 10 percent of available plant biomass -- or even more. This means that the grasshopper plays a vital role in preventing plant overgrowth in the environment. While the insect's appetite can wreak havoc on farm crops, in general, it also benefits the environment by maintaining optimal levels of plant growth.
If there are too many because of weather issues, it may be time to use an insecticide. Just don't kill them all out.
I am still learning. I am taking asking questions and getting answers and the answers are amazing!