Community Agriculture Alliance: Grasshopper season is upon us

Todd Hagenbuch
CSU Routt County Extension
The 2023 Rangeland Grasshopper Hazard map from the United States Department of Agriculture shows that Routt County should expect some of the highest number of grasshoppers across the state.
United States Department of Agriculture/courtesy photo

You may have seen the Steamboat Pilot & Today article on April 22, in which was discussed the potential for a big grasshopper year this year. If you want to see the potential discussed, look at the forecast included in that article.

You’ll note that Routt County was, at the creation of the map, THE potential hot-spot for this summer. But what does the weather we’ve experienced this past week mean for this forecast? The answer is … it depends. So here is some good news and some bad news.

Good news: I’ve seen some first instar grasshoppers on site visits I’ve had this past week, but not many. I did, however, have a call from a rancher in the Milner area who has seen areas with many newly hatched grasshoppers. The good news is that this week’s cool, wet weather should be knocking back young grasshoppers fairly well; they are pretty fragile at this point and will likely perish as a result of repeated showers and cool temps.

Bad news: The eggs that still haven’t hatched are probably doing quite well in the soil, and those will hatch when the temperatures warm up. If we don’t get another few days of cool, wet weather once they’ve hatched, then they’ll go through their lifecycle (assuming no other intervention) and lay eggs this summer, continuing our cycle of lots of hoppers until a different natural solution comes into play.

Good news: This rain, along with our snowpack and last fall’s rain, means our pastures are in better shape than they’ve been the past few springs … so grasshopper damage won’t be quite as bad since we’ll have more grass.

Bad news: This rain, along with our snowpack and last fall’s rain, means our pastures are in better shape than they’ve been the past few springs … so grasshoppers may have a lot to eat and may be able to lay even more eggs late this summer. YIKES!

Good news: If you’re reading this, you are paying attention to this issue and have shown an interest in taking action. Now is the time to discuss your plans with your neighbors about what you’re going to do if you start seeing a lot (15 or more per square yard) of hoppers in your area. Get on the horn this next week and figure out what your plan of action is, because you need to be contacting spraying contractors now, if you haven’t already, to get your plans on their radar and get on their calendar.

More good news: The Routt County Weed Board recommended to the Board of County Commissioners (and they fully agreed) that Taylor Grazing Act funds be used again this year to help offset large acreage treatment at $2 per treated acre. The application for receiving the reimbursement is available through the CSU Extension office and includes more details on the program.

If you’re interested in the county’s reimbursement program or would like to learn more about grasshopper control, contact CSU Extension at 970-879-0825, stop by our office at 136 Sixth St., Suite 101, or email

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