March 29, 2010

Western States Facing Summer Grasshopper Infestation

A federal survey conducted during the fall of 2009 has predicted that 48 million acres of land in Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming will fall victim to a major infestation of grasshoppers over the upcoming summer.

Farmers in the areas predicted to be hardest hit are preparing for a battle that will see the use of millions of dollars of aerial insecticide in an attempt to stave off millions of dollars of damage to corn, barley, soy beans, and other crops caused by the hordes of plant eating insects.

Charles Brown, the national grasshopper suppression program manager at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), told AP writer Matt Joyce that some states "may see some of the most severe grasshopper outbreaks that we've seen in nearly 30 years."

Tom Wright, a rancher in northeast Wyoming, described the plight farmers in the area face. As he told Joyce, "They'll eat the leaves and leave the stem. And they will eat the stems finally. When they're really thick, people say they'll eat T-shirts on a line"¦ At the point that [grasshoppers] eat all the grass, you have to either sell all your cows, lease grass somewhere else or buy hay."

States have announced plans to use the Dimilin 2L insecticide, which experts claim has a low level of toxicity to humans, other mammals, reptiles, birds, and bees. The insecticide will be spread shortly after the grasshopper eggs hatch, while the insects are in the nymph stage.


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