Mid-June 2012: Scout now for grasshoppers
PIERRE, SD – South Dakota faces the possibility of destructive grasshopper outbreaks every year, and predicting those outbreaks before they happen can be challenging.
Experts look at current weather conditions and survey data from previous years to predict what might happen this year. While a widespread outbreak is unlikely, the potential is definitely there for isolated problem areas across the state.
Early scouting is the key to effectively controlling problem grasshoppers.
Grasshoppers go through five nymphal stages before adulthood. They are most susceptible to treatments as nymphs. Once grasshoppers reach adulthood, they are much tougher to control. Since they begin laying eggs immediately, spraying too late will not break their life cycle.
Grasshopper densities across South Dakota reached historic levels in the summer of 2010. Last year threatened to be one of the worst grasshopper years since the early 1930s, but Mother Nature intervened. Early warmth followed by a cool wet May and June helped keep the grasshoppers in check naturally.
Newly-hatched grasshoppers are very susceptible to cold, wet weather that increases the prevalence of bacteria and disease that can cause mortality. Although those weather patterns helped to limit early hatching species, late hatching species thrived with surplus vegetation, moderate temperatures, and a late frost. Perfect conditions late last summer will likely result in escalating grasshopper population numbers this summer.
Reports have been received in the past two weeks of hatches starting in the southern tier of South Dakota counties and progressing north. If the hatch progresses at a normal pace, mid-June will be the perfect time for control activities.
The South Dakota Department of Agriculture, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and SDSU Extension Service will be collaborating to keep the public informed about grasshopper conditions and provide producers with tailored information on grasshopper treatment options.