Grasshop­pers worry the West

The Kansas City Star (Sunday) - - ALTERNATIVE MOTORS BUSINESS - By MATT JOYCE

Grasshop­per in­fes­ta­tions have taken on mythic tones on the arid prairie of north­east­ern Wy­oming, with tales of their blan­ket­ing high­ways, eat­ing T-shirts off clothes­lines and de­vour­ing nearly ev­ery scrap of veg­e­ta­tion on ranches and farms.

The myth may come closer to re­al­ity this sum­mer than at any time in decades in sev­eral states in the West and the Plains.

A fed­eral sur­vey of grasshop­pers last fall in­di­cated that parts of west­ern Kansas, Wy­oming, Mon­tana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Ne­braska and Idaho could face costly grasshop­per in­fes­ta­tions this sum­mer.

Ranch­ers and farm­ers as well as fed­eral and mu­nic­i­pal pest-con­trol agen­cies are pray­ing for well-timed cool and wet weather to sti­fle the young grasshop­pers when they hatch around May and June.

In the mean­time, they’re scram­bling to line up the mil­lions of dol­lars it will cost to bat­tle an out­break with aerial in­sec­ti­cide.

Grasshop­pers can pro­vide eco­log­i­cal ben­e­fits, serv­ing as a food source for other an­i­mals. How­ever, some pest species can eat their body weight daily in veg­e­ta­tion and can waste up to six times more by drop­ping for­age to the ground.

SCOTT SCHELL | THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Parts of west­ern Kansas and sev­eral other states could face costly in­fes­ta­tions of grasshop­pers this sum­mer.

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