Grasshoppers replace Mormon cricket as Nev. target
ELKO (AP) – State agriculture officials typically bracing for an invasion of Mormon crickets in northeast Nevada say the bigger threat to crops and rangeland so far this summer appears to be the regular old grasshopper.
Actually, the one that poses the greatest threat to vegetation is the clear-winged grasshopper because so many can cover a large acreage and they can fly several miles a day, said Jeff Knight, state entomologist for the Nevada Department of Agriculture.
Large concentrations of grasshoppers have appeared in northeast and north central Nevada in Clover Valley, Boulder Valley, Argenta, north of Battle Mountain, Paradise Valley and Orovada.
Knight said Mormon crickets also are present in northeast Nevada. But he said their numbers are down and the grasshoppers have proven to be more of a problem this year.
“The range is really drying out, and they are moving to where it’s green,” Knight said.
Officials for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection service are conducting surveys in the Orovada area near U.S. Highway 95, about 30 miles north of Winnemucca, to determine if aerial spraying is warranted.
Knight said Wyoming recently sprayed as much as 2.3 million acres to combat a grasshopper infestation. In the height of the Mormon cricket invasion, Knight said Nevada has sprayed up to 400,000 acres.
Population booms for grasshoppers usually happen every five to 10 years, with outbreaks every 15 to 20 years, he said.
“People kind of forgot about them,” he said.
A few years ago, “cricket slicks” on roadways contributed to vehicle accidents, causing concern for rural travelers.
Randy Hesterlee, traffic engineer for the Nevada Department of Transportation, said there is a “small bunch” of crickets on State Route 278 south of Carlin, but there have been no major “slicks.”
Knight said his office will soon get a permit from the Bureau of Land Manage-ment to bait crickets near Orovada, where the grass-hoppers also are prevalent.
So far, the project near Orovada is the only location considered for baiting, he said, because the department is trying to keep a natural approach to cricket management by allowing natural predators and parasites to kill and consume them.
The department is trying to track the movement of these bands.
“That way we have a good idea where to start next year,” Knight said.
Information from: Elko Daily Free Press, http://www.elkodaily.com