Preparing for Grasshoppers in Wyoming
It’s hard to believe spring is just around the corner, especially when snow is still on the ground. But rest assured, better weather is on the way, so it’s never too early to get prepared for grasshopper season.
This is especially true for landowners and cropland owners who have the most to lose when it comes to dealing with grasshopper infestations.
The Wyoming Weed and Pest Council (WWPC) sat down with Bruce Shambaugh, the state plant health director for Wyoming in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to talk about the upcoming grasshopper season.
The good news is this season’s outlook for Wyoming is better than it’s been in recent years. USDA APHIS primarily focuses on grasshopper densities on rangelands, but they’re able to provide a snapshot of what hotspots may come up.
Grasshoppers are measured by the number of grasshoppers per square yard. For example, one or two grasshoppers are considered normal, three to seven grasshoppers indicate the potential for an outbreak and eight or more are considered outbreak levels for high-value grazing land or cropland.
In the 2022 adult grasshopper survey, USDA APHIS indicates there will be about five or six small areas with high densities of grasshoppers they’ll focus on this spring. This includes Uinta, Sublette, Carbon, Converse, Natrona and Johnson counties.
“A couple of the hot spots are areas where we’ve experienced high densities of a damaging species on rangeland bordering cropland,” Shambaugh said. “Our surveys this spring will help landowners and managers make informed management decisions.”
Over 400 grasshopper species can be found throughout the Western U.S., with 107 in Wyoming, and only 12 of the 107 species are considered pests.
Grasshoppers and Mormon crickets are natural components of the rangeland ecosystem. But, when their populations reach outbreak levels, they cause a lot of damage. Heavy defoliation, complete loss of forage and crop damage can happen as early as mid-July.
According to USDA APHIS,“Uncontrolled infestations could cause significant economic losses for U.S. livestock producers by reducing forage available on rangeland, forcing producers to buy supplemental feed or sell their livestock at reduced prices. Besides feeding on grasslands, large grasshopper and Mormon cricket populations can also devastate cultivated crops such as alfalfa, barley, corn and wheat.”
The main thing landowners and land managers should do is learn about grasshoppers and what to look out for. If a high grasshopper density is seen on a property, landowners should contact their local weed and pest district, county Extension educators or Shambaugh at USDA APHIS.
“Early communication is the key to success with grasshopper and Mormon cricket management,” Shambaugh said. “We provide technical assistance to landowners and managers, deliver public outreach programs and may work with landowners and managers to suppress grasshopper populations when direct intervention is needed.”
Bruce Shambaugh can be reached by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. A contact list of weed and pest districts can be found by visiting wyoweed.org. This article is courtesy of the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council (WWPC). WWPC comprises 23 Weed and Pest Districts in the state of Wyoming. The council works closely with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and the University of Wyoming to keep current with the latest technology and research available in the ongoing management of noxious weeds and pests. The overall mission is to provide unified support and leadership for integrated management of noxious weeds and pests to protect economic and ecological resources in the state.