LOGAN – The ground moves in some places across Cache Valley with every step. Grasshoppers are thick in farms and gardens from Paradise to Richmond and all over the state. Gardens and crops and flowers are taking a beating due to the voracious appetite of the insects.
“We do have an infestation of grasshoppers this year,” said Jacob Hadfield from the Utah State University extension office. ”The populations are cyclical and we are in the seventh year of an eight year cycle.”
He said next year could be the same but most likely it will be worse. The entire state is getting hit hard with the bugs this year.
Historically, grasshoppers have done more damage to crops than the Mormon Crickets in Utah, History On the Go reported.
The infestation in the Salt Lake Valley in the late 1880’s was described far worse than what we have today.
“Settlers described them as looking like a ‘heavy snowstorm’ or snowflakes and so numerous as to cover the sky and darken the sun. The Deseret News reported one massive appearance in which ‘the grasshoppers filled the sky for three miles deep, or as far as they could be seen without the aid of Telescopes, and somewhat resembling a snow storm.’”
Grasshoppers, especially in Cache County, move down to the valley as rangelands start to dry out. Then the destructive insects make their homes in lower elevations where they eat crops, pastures, lawns, and gardens. They can also be found in vacant lots and ditches were they go to gather to feed.
Cache County Extension has been getting many calls concerning grasshoppers throughout the state.
“I get about two calls a week from farmers or gardeners wanting help,” he said. “You can try to spray or dust. Or you can try mowing and spraying the perimeter. That could be your best bet.”
Sprays kill them instantly, dust takes a little more time and bait takes even longer, but all can be effective in battling the menacing insects.
He said you can do all that until they have wings and then they almost become invincible.
“You have to think about the cost benefit trying to battle them,” Hadfield said. “It is almost a losing battle this time of year.”
The best time to kill the bugs is earlier in the cycle. A few months ago would have been the best time to eliminate them.
“We can still try a lot of products with carbaryl, a chemical in the carbonate family used chiefly as an insecticide like Sevin dust,” he said. “Once they get wings, any treatment is too late. The best times to target grasshoppers is early in the year when they are hatching.”
The yards and gardens closest to alfalfa fields are the ones that are affected the most, he said.
“I heard that in some parts of the state some places like Millard County are battling the Mormon Crickets and grasshoppers,” Hadfield said. “It’s been a bad bug year; everything is going crazy.”
For more help battling grasshoppers, contact Jacob Hadfield at USU extension (435) 752-6263.