Grasshopper Infestation!

Neither Laura Ingalls Wilder nor the cast and crew of Little House On the Prairie ever had it so bad.

The combination of heavy winter snows and a wet spring turned Paradise Valley, Montana into, well, paradise. Everything’s Gone Green, to quote New Order.

But all good things must be balanced by some bad. This year it’s grasshoppers. The ground literally moves in waves when you walk. They are everywhere. They’ve killed half of my sunflower crop. Today I noticed that they are now all over our trees – the crab apples are getting hit really hard, but so too are the blue spruce. Blue spruce? I had no idea grasshoppers would eat evergreens. Apparently they eat almost anything. I really hate them.

I’m very reluctant to spray as we live in the Yellowstone River watershed. Most pesticides effective against members of the Locustidae family are also highly toxic to aquatic life. And I have no idea what poisoned grasshoppers might do to our abundant bird life.

So today we open a new front on the Global War on Grasshoppers using biological warfare: Nosema locustae, a single celled microsporidian parasite of locusts.

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