Weed and Pest gears up for grasshoppers

For the fifth straight year, Big Horn County Weed and Pest is preparing to do battle against grasshoppers. And, they are again conducting a meeting to inform the public on ways to treat grasshoppers, whether on rangelands, cropland or in lawns and gardens.

Big Horn County Weed and Pest grasshopper workshop is set for Thursday, Feb. 2 from 10 am to 2 pm at the Weed and Pest office on Highway 310 near Greybull.

Big Horn County Weed and Pest Supervisor Ruth Zeller said the workshop, which will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, at the Weed and Pest office on Highway 310 near Greybull, will be similar to last year. Weed and Pest is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the University of Wyoming. UW entomologists will be on hand for the workshop.

Zeller said the workshop will give area landowners and ranchers the opportunity to learn more about integrated pest management, treatment options, grasshoppers on rangeland and grasshoppers in crops, and available insecticides.

Zeller said a grasshopper cycle usually runs one to three years in an area with a five- to seven-year break. She said she has not heard any reasoning for the longer cycle.

Last spring was wet, long and cold, which Zeller said should have provided the right environment to stop the huge grasshopper explosion. It didn’t. It just delayed it until the weather and the ground dried up and grasshoppers emerged in abundance.

In dealing with grasshoppers, Zeller said preventive action is the only thing the Weed and Pest District can afford to do. “We don’t have funding to treat once the grasshoppers are in the crops,” she said.

A preventive plan is more affordable, she added. She said treatment can begin as soon as baby grasshoppers appear on fence rows and ditch banks.

She said the more landowners group together, the more the treatment will be affordable. Early treatments are usually done with aerial spraying and includes the vegetation around where the baby grasshoppers have been spotted. She said if grasshoppers are appearing between alfalfa cuts, ground treatment can be done between cuttings.

Two different insecticides are used — carbaryl, a neurotoxin that lasts five to seven days, and dimilin, which is a restricted use pesticide but lasts 28 days. To use dimilin, residents must have a private pesticide applicator license. A workshop is being scheduled in March by the UW Cooperative Extension Service.

She said both insecticides have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as not being harmful to people, birds or pets if used according to the label.

Weed and Pest is providing a cost-share on the grasshopper preventive treatment, Zeller said. The district will cover 50 percent of approved pesticide purchased through the district and pay labor up to $1 per acre for projects 15 acres or larger only. Projects must be approved prior to treatment to receive the labor cost-share, Zeller said.

Treatments are contingent on APHIS surveys to confirm adequate infestation numbers for treatment. Projects are limited to the budget available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Weed and Pest also has equipment available at no cost except for repairs and replacement if damaged.

Pre-registration for lunch during the workshop has passed (Jan. 25). Participants that have not already pre-registered are asked to bring their own lunch. There is no fee when providing your own lunch.

Zeller also wants to remind Lovell area residents that she will be in Lovell on Wednesdays this spring and summer from 4-6 p.m. in the Annex parking lot. Dates are May 23, June 20, June 27, July 11, July 25, Aug. 1. Anyone needing to purchase chemical can contact Weed and Pest at 765-2855 and pick them up on Wednesdays this year.