ROARING SPRINGS, Ore., May 11 (UPI) -- Oregon scientists and farmers are predicting a devastating plague of grasshoppers this summer, perhaps worse than western U.S. states experienced last year.
Last summer, Oregon was stormed by 2-inch-long, clear-winged grasshoppers, The Oregonian newspaper in Portland, Ore., reported.
The grasshoppers ate plants over tens of thousands of acres of in Harney County in 2009 and this summer the ravaged area could double to 140,000 acres in the county, entomologists said.
"Most people slowed down out of curiosity and awe" as grasshoppers carpeted Oregon Highway 205 that goes through Roaring Springs, rancher Elaine Davies told The Oregonian.
Hungry grasshoppers beginning to hatch in New Mexico and Arizona could make 2010 the worst grasshopper plague since the mid-1980s, said Charles Brown of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Natural population cycles and widespread drought conditions allow the grasshoppers to thrive, Brown said.
Treating the Roaring Springs Ranch's grasshopper egg beds with Dimilin, a growth regulator that kills grasshoppers immediately after hatching, probably will cost $4,000 but will save 20,000 acres of grass, ranch's foreman Stacy Davies said to the newspaper.
Dimilin is more effective than battling mature grasshoppers later in the season with Malathion, which isn't as environmentally friendly, could cost $25,000, and could be riskier for grass for cattle grazing.
Dimilin applications in Oregon in 2008 reduced acreage affected by grasshoppers from 1 million to 150,000 in 2009, entomologist Helmuth Rogg of the Oregon Department of Agriculture in Salem said in The Oregonian report.