Swarms of grasshoppers predicted to plague the West this year

Swarms of grasshoppers predicted to plague the West this year

LA GRANDE — A storm of 2-inch-long grasshoppers swept across

in southeastern Oregon’s high desert last summer — turning roads slippery, crunchy and “kind of gross” on their way to devouring 7,000 acres of grass intended as spring forage for the cattle

“Most people slowed down out of curiosity and awe” as clouds of grasshoppers carpeted Oregon 205 that passes through Roaring Springs, said ranch resident Elaine Davies.

The onslaught may be a mere prelude to a grasshopper invasion of near-mythic proportions predicted this summer in

and across the American West.

Hungry grasshoppers are starting to hatch in Arizona and New Mexico and could make 2010 the worst grasshopper year since the mid-1980s — consuming huge swaths of grasslands and crops, said U.S. Department of Agriculture expert Charles Brown. The anticipated glut results from natural population cycles and widespread drought conditions that grasshoppers thrive under.

, said Brown, who oversees the USDA’s national grasshopper suppression program.

Of several hundred types of grasshoppers, ranchers and farmers throughout the West are likely to encounter up to 15 hungry “pest species” this summer, he said. In Oregon, a clear-winged grasshopper called

are the culprits.

Grasshoppers munched their way across tens of thousands of acres of Harney County in 2009, and this summer’s devastation could double to 140,000 acres in the county, entomologists said. Grasshopper activity probably will be centered on and around the million-acre-plus Roaring Springs Ranch south of Frenchglen,

itself and ranchland north of the 187,000-acre

Outbreaks also are possible in drought-stricken Klamath and Lake counties this summer or next year, said entomologist Helmuth Rogg of the Oregon Department of Agriculture in Salem.

The hatch will spread into Oregon and other northern states in the coming weeks as chilly spring temperatures give way to warmer weather. Grasshopper egg beds typically occupy dry, south-facing slopes just far enough underground to escape fast-moving range fires, biologists say.

The grasshopper plague probably will hit its stride in August as summertime heat parches Western croplands and open ranges. Grasshoppers often consume their own weight in forage and crops in a day. Eight grasshoppers per square yard are enough to cause economic damage, Rogg said.

“They are the lawnmower of the prairie,” he said. “The biggest biomass consumers on the North American prairie are grasshoppers — not cattle, not bison, not antelope.”

The pests can reduce rangeland forage by 80 percent in areas as large as 2,000 square miles, Brown said.

The most effective control is the pesticide Dimilin , a growth regulator that kills young grasshoppers just after the hatch, he said.

The federal government will pay all costs for pesticide applications on federal lands, 50 percent on state lands and a third on privately owned lands. Some landowners, including the owners of Roaring Springs, opt to pay the costs themselves.

“When it comes time to cost-share, there is too much red tape for me,” said Roaring Springs foreman Stacy Davies.

He and a crew of buckaroos will begin searching for egg beds on horseback, ATVs and on foot as soon as the ranch gets some warmer weather, he said. Roaring Springs’ elevation is at 4,600 feet and the mercury tumbled into the low 20s several times in the past week, he said.

Treating the ranch’s egg beds with Dimilin probably will cost $4,000 and save 20,000 acres of grass, Davies said. That works better than battling clouds of mature hoppers later in the season with Malathion, a less environmentally friendly pesticide, that could cost $25,000 and leave the grass at greater risk, he said.

Successful Dimilin treatments in Oregon reduced the grasshopper infestation from 1 million acres in 2008 to 150,000 acres last year, Rogg said.

“All the other states went the other way” — and watched grasshopper populations multiply because they didn’t find and treat egg beds, he said. “They are all going to look forward to big outbreaks.”

www.oregonlive.com

Where Art Meets the Heart

grasshopper – Melanoplus sanguinipes – female Oecanthus fultoni – Snowy Tree Cricket Scudderia furcata – Fork-tailed Bush Katydid – young female

Last Updated: February 10, 2012

PURPOSE:
This image gallery has been created to assist visitors with the identification of Orthoptera – grasshoppers, crickets and katydids.

As in every yard, there are a myriad different insects and bugs to be found, and I’ve barely scratched the surface – I seem to discover new visitors and residents every day of “Bug Season” (for me that’s March through early October). As I find, photograph and identify new grasshoppers, crickets and katydids, they will be added to the gallery.

PHOTOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS AND DATES:
Currently, the Orthoptera identification on this page is specific to all grasshoppers, crickets and katydids that show up in and around my yard. These Orthoptera, however, are also found in many other parts of the United States.

Unless otherwise noted, all images were taken in Northern Douglas County, Oregon.

The date each photograph was taken appears under each thumbnail image. The sex of each specimen, if known, is also indicated under each thumbnail.

TO VIEW AN ENLARGEMENT OF A THUMBNAIL:
To view an enlargement, left-click the thumbnail image you wish to see enlarged. Enlargements are presented as popup windows and are created using Javascript, so you should have Javascript enabled for this page.

There’s Grasshoppers, Crickets and Katyd >

  • suborder Caelifera – Grasshoppers
    • family Acrididae – Short-horned Grasshoppers
      • subfamily Gomphocerinae – Slant-faced Grasshoppers
        • Gomphocerus Group (no taxon)
          • genus Chorthippus
            • Chorthippus curtipennis – Marsh Meadow Grasshopper
      • subfamily Melanoplinae – Spur-throated Grasshoppers
        • tribe Melanoplini
          • genus Melanoplus
            • Melanoplus femurrubrum – Red-legged Grasshopper
            • Melanoplus sanguinipes – Migratory Grasshopper
      • subfamily Oedipodinae – Band-winged Grasshoppers
        • tribe Sphingonotini
          • genus Circotettix
            • Circotettix carlinianus – Carlinian Snapper
  • suborder Ensifera – Long-horned Orthoptera
    • family Gryllidae – True Crickets
      • subfamily Oecanthinae – Tree Crickets
        • genus Oecanthus – Common Tree Crickets
          • rileyi group
            • Oecanthus fultoni – Snowy Tree Cricket
          • varicornis group (no taxon)
            • Oecanthus californicus – Western Tree Cricket

    • family Rhaphidophoridae – Camel Crickets
      • genus Pristoceuthophilus

    • family Tettigoniidae – Katydids
      • subfamily Phaneropterinae – False Katydids
        • genus Scudderia – Scudder’s Bush Katydids
          • Scudderia furcata – Fork-tailed Bush Katydid
      • subfamily Tettigoniinae – Shield-backed Katydids
        • genus Tessellana
          • Tessellana tessellata – Brown-spotted Bush-cricket

To view an enlargement, click the image

Chorthippus curtipennis
Marsh Meadow Grasshopper

female
09/02/09
male
07/11/09
male
07/22/09

To view an enlargement, click the image

Melanoplus femurrubrum
Red-legged Grasshopper

female
09/10/10

To view an enlargement, click the image

Melanoplus sanguinipes
Migratory Grasshopper

female
08/22/08

To view an enlargement, click the image

Circotettix carlinianus
Carlinian Snapper

To view an enlargement, click the image

Oecanthus fultoni
Snowy Tree Cricket

To view an enlargement, click the image

Oecanthus californicus
Western Tree Cricket

female
09/06/08

To view an enlargement, click the image

genus Pristoceuthophilus
Camel Cricket

To view an enlargement, click the image

Scudderia furcata
Fork-tailed Bush Katydid

adult
08/14/09
almost an adult
08/12/09
previous instar
07/24/09
younger yet
07/20/09
and still younger
07/06/09
the earliest instar I found
05/31/09

To view an enlargement, click the image

Tessellana tessellata
Brown-spotted Bush-cricket

female
07/19/09
male
07/28/09
nymph – dinner for Misumena vatia, Goldenrod Crab Spider
07/09/09

Number of visitors to Grasshoppers since 03/06/08

Please note that due to the nature of the beast, Where Art Meets the Heart will evolve over time. Check back periodically to see what’s new.

www.whereartmeetstheheart.com

Oregon town fights back against invading Mormon crickets

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April AamodtMormon crickets are once again appearing in rangeland surrounding Arlington, Ore. along the Columbia River.

April AamodtA herd of goats was brought in to eat overgrown grass where Mormon crickets might hide in Arlington, Ore., part of a strategy to fight back against the pesky insects.

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April Aamodt likens it to the zombie apocalypse.

It was about this time last year when hordes of hissing, cannibalistic Mormon crickets began swarming the small town of Arlington, Ore., climbing up the sides of houses, marching down the streets and devouring local crops.

โ€œIt was awful,โ€ said Aamodt, who lives in Arlington along the Columbia River in north-central Oregon. โ€œMy land was infested with thousands of them. I was working from 5:30 in the morning to 9 at night trying to kill crickets.โ€

The community is now bracing for round two, but this time Aamodt said they have a plan. With help from Oregon State University Extension and the Oregon Department of Agriculture, residents are mapping hot spots of Mormon crickets and targeting the grotesque insects with an arsenal of pesticides and bait.

Aamodt, who works for the Gilliam County District Attorneyโ€™s Office, is at the forefront of the battle, hoping to avoid a repeat of last yearโ€™s creepy, crawly invasion.

โ€œEveryone has to do their part to prevail against this infestation,โ€ she said.

Mormon crickets are not actually crickets, but flightless members of the katydid family, closely related to grasshoppers and crickets. Their name comes from the Mormon settlers in Utah, who encountered the pests while pushing westward in the 1800s.

The insects can grow up to 2-3 inches long, emerging in the springtime and undergoing seven stages of development โ€” known as instars โ€” before reaching adulthood, usually after 60-90 days.

Jordan Maley, OSU Extension agent for Gilliam County, said hatchlings began to surface roughly a month and a half ago, and it will be several weeks before adults are on the move.

โ€œThey consume anything that is in their path,โ€ Maley said, highlighting the risk to agriculture.

Mormon cricket populations are cyclical, though longtime Arlington resident and rancher Dick Krebs claimed it was the worst infestation since 1942. A public meeting was called in June 2017 to deal with the nightmare, though by that time it was too late.

Instead, Maley said they turned their attention to the next year, plotting a comprehensive strategy to keep the pesky bugs at bay.

โ€œWeโ€™re doing whatever it takes to get these things under control,โ€ he said.

Using Google Maps, landowners and townspeople have been able to report sightings of Mormon crickets right from their smartphones. Workers from ODA have also spent the last two weeks scouting for crickets on the hilly rangeland surrounding town.

The highest concentrations of crickets seem to be about a mile west of Arlington in Jones Canyon, Maley said. In some cases, the crickets are โ€œtoo numerous to count accurately,โ€ as many as 200 per square yard.

By mapping the hot spots for Mormon crickets, Maley said they can make the best use of their limited resources.

โ€œWeโ€™re just trying to make sure weโ€™re being effective,โ€ he said.

Outside city limits, the county has agreed to pay $105,000 for an aerial applicator to spray Dimilin, a pesticide that targets younger, smaller crickets and inhibits their growth.

Charlie Anderson, a wheat farmer up Blalock Canyon, was hit especially hard by last yearโ€™s infestation, as crickets devastated 50 acres on the outskirts of his fields. He was the first to conduct aerial spraying around his property on April 24, and so far the treatments appear to be working.

โ€œThose crickets are gone,โ€ Anderson said. โ€œThereโ€™s not a sign of them.โ€

Once the Mormon crickets become adults and Dimilin is no longer effective, Maley said they will begin applying 4,000 pounds of grainy Sevin bait, donated by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, to kill the oncoming swarm.

In town, residents are already spraying Tempo, a general use insecticide that is considered safe to use around children and pets. The city of Arlington and Gilliam County also joined together to bring in a herd of goats to eat overgrown grass on steep, tricky hillsides where crickets might hide.

To prevail against the infestation, Aamodt said everyone is going to have to do their part.

โ€œI do think that people are working together,โ€ she said. โ€œI receive phone calls and messages every single day.โ€

Maley said it is unrealistic to think they will solve the problem in one year, but is optimistic they are on the right track.

โ€œWe had that outbreak last summer, which was really horrendous and pretty much ruined the summer for Arlington,โ€ he said. โ€œWe got organized, and I think weโ€™re going to put a dent in it this year.โ€

www.capitalpress.com

Grasshoppers are back

Oregon 96-329 Grasshopper Gator Mulcher 3-in-1 Hi Lift Replacement Blade

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  • Oregon Genuine OEM Replacement Blade # 96-329
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Includes (1) 96-329 Mower Blade. New, Bulk Packed. Genuine OEM replacement part. Consult owners manual for proper part number identification and proper installation. Compatible with: GRASSHOPPER: 320236, 320238, 320239, 320239B, 320241 WOODS: 70104

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