Ranchers and those who use farm equipment in the West may want to take heed of a warning from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
According to that office, 2010 could see a large infestation of grasshoppers in states like Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming and both Dakotas. The reason is that the end of the last summer saw the existence of many adult grasshoppers, which may have led to higher rates of breeding.
"If the spring is relatively warm with little rainfall, conditions could be favorable for egg hatching, grasshopper survival, and outbreak-level populations," the APHIS said. "However, relatively cool and wet weather could limit the potential for outbreaks."
The service recommends ranchers in the West contact their county extension office, which can provide assistance in determining if areas have a high rate of egg infestation. The APHIS is also making funding available for treating areas while also providing technical assistance.
Some treatment options include the use of pesticides, which the service says are safe given the appropriate conditions. Further information about the potential grasshopper problem is available at the APHIS website, www.aphis.usda.gov.