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Eastern, southern state see surge in populations.

June 23, 2009

2 Min Read

Now is a critical time for farmers in eastern and southern parts of the state as millions of young grasshoppers emerge.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture advises landowners to take some action to protect crops and rangeland. In a few weeks, the tiny grasshopper nymphs not watching will fully develop into adults that damage plants, says ODA Insect Pest Prevention and Management Program Supervisor Helmuth Rogg.

"We are at the beginning of the grasshopper season when they literally pop out of the ground after hatching," he says. "This is also when they cause extensive damage because all hey really do right now is eat, eat, and eat."

That eating will continue as they become adults, but the bigger threat is their ability to fly once they mature, says Rogg. Infestations will grow geographically into large areas. Egg-laying females could then create a bigger headache for the next year as they distribute the grasshopper population over a wider expanse.

Current hot spots in Oregon include parts of Baker County, the Klamath Marsh area, and Lake County, says Rogg. 

The species of concern – Camnula pellucida (clear-winged grasshopper) – has been a yearly concern in eastern Oregon for the last three years.

No longer able to use large-scale federal programs to control outbreaks, Oregon farmers are strongly encouraged by ODA to develop control programs. The chemical weapon of choice, dimilin, acts as an insect growth regulator which impairs grasshopper development.

Growers may want to pay particular attention to this pest, which Rogg explains will begin dining on alfalfa, wheat and potatoes once they run out of grass to eat.

Producers who treated against grasshoppers last year became frustrated over dismal results of their efforts in view of the lack of similar control action by neighbors. This year, producers hope to encourage more widespread treatments to keep the pest under control.

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