Grasshoppers bite the dust | VailDaily.com

Grasshoppers bite the dust

Susan Bacon

The grasshoppers are gone for the summer, at least for most of Steamboat Springs. More importantly, it doesn’t look like they’ll be back in throngs next summer.In June, several periods of cool, wet weather killed many of the insects while they were still young and vulnerable. There are isolated spots where infestations are still raging, but for much of the area, that weather was enough to make the insects bite the dust.”Overall, I’m rather happy,” Routt County Extension Agent C.J. Mucklow said. “Agriculturally, it truly was a burden on ranching. Secondly, they’re a real nuisance for people.”Fewer grasshoppers this year means fewer grasshopper eggs, and thus a lower chance for epidemic levels of grasshopper next summer, Mucklow said.Grasshopper populations exploded in 2002, when dry and hot weather created an ideal environment for the insects. In 2003, the infestation was still widespread across the county. The insects were so dense that they constantly pelted car windshields, ate entire gardens and fields, and flew in clouds when disturbed on a lawn.By the end of last year, there were enough grasshopper eggs to make for another long summer of eaten fields, but populations have not exploded, most likely because of the weather, Mucklow said.”The potential was there where we could have had an even larger infestation than we had in 2003,” Mucklow said.Some areas in the county were hit hard by the insects this summer, Mucklow said. The county’s aerial treatments killed insects on about 13,000 acres. The spraying is done in strips, so about half that acreage actually was hit with a chemical.Last year, almost triple that level – 35,000 acres – were treated. For people who are fighting large numbers of the insects, the only option now is to use an insecticide, or to “not worry about it” and let nature take its course, Mucklow said.