2017 Grasshopper situation in Colorado
Assefa Gebre-Amlak and Frank Peairs, Colorado State University Extension
According to the 2016 USDA APHIS adult grasshopper counts, there were low populations of grasshoppers in Colorado last year with the exception of some areas of a potential moderate risk of infestations in south eastern counties ( Baca, Bent, Crowley, El Paso, Las Animas, Kiowa, Otero, Pueblo and Prowers) in 2017.
The 2017 grasshopper forecast shows low infestations of grasshoppers in the Golden Plains and the Front Range areas with a small spot of moderate infestation in areas between Morgan and Weld counties.
We encourage ranchers and producers to monitor grasshopper situations in your area in those counties with moderate risk of the hazard. The rest of Colorado had much lower counts of the insects and no risk of grasshopper infestations and damage expected in 2017. For details of grasshopper specific hazards maps for your areas/counties and much other grasshopper management information, visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/plant-pest-and-disease-programs/pests-and-diseases/grasshopper-mormon-cricket/ct_grasshopper_mormon_cricket..
Generally, grasshoppers have one generation per year. Eggs are deposited in the ground in the fall. The eggs hatch in the spring and summer (late May through early June) and hatch is dependent on soil temperature, which differs for different species.
Weather conditions will determine how much of the damage potential will be realized in those areas with light to moderate populations of grasshoppers. Most grasshopper outbreaks are associated with several years of dry conditions.
The simple economic threshold for grasshoppers in rangeland is 15-20 grasshopper nymphs per square yard. This number is equivalent eight to ten adult grasshoppers per square yard. However, the economic importance of an infestation is affected by such factors as grasshopper species, range condition, cattle prices, and treatment costs. CARMA is a computer program that allows the landowners to include these factors in their treatment decisions. CARMA is available at the same website as the hazard map mentioned earlier.
Treatment options for grasshopper management are based on the Reduced Agent and Area Treatment (RAAT) strategy, which results in untreated swaths and swaths treated with reduced chemical rates. Using lower rates and leaving untreated areas reduces treatment costs by as much as 50% and preserves biological control. Grasshoppers move constantly, insuring that they will enter a treated swath and that levels of control will be similar to complete coverage applications. Large infestations can be treated aerially with malathion, carbaryl or diflubenzuron (Dimilin). Smaller infestations can be controlled with RAAT treatments applied aerially or with all-terrain vehicles (https://www.uwyo.edu/entomology/grasshoppers/atvraats.htm) appropriately equipped to apply carbaryl or diflubenzuron. See labels for grazing restrictions.
All-terrain vehicles also can be used for spot treatments of egg-laying sites such as pastures, ditches, and untilled field margins. Grasshopper nymphs tend to remain concentrated in their hatching areas for some time after they emerge, where the application of an approved insecticide can provide effective and economical control of localized infestations.
Dimilin (diflubenzuron) treatment for grasshoppers should be applied in 2nd to 3rd instar stage because this growth regulator insecticide will not control adults. Strategies for managing grasshoppers in cropland are somewhat different. Recommendations for specific crops can be found in the High Plains Integrated Pest Management Guide, (www.highplainsipm.org).