Hoppers vulnerable right now | SteamboatToday.com

Hoppers vulnerable right now

Biological and chemical insecticides readily available

Thousands of grasshoppers the size of pencil points are beginning to hatch in yards and greenbelts in Steamboat Springs this week. For homeowners, it’s now or never to kill them.

The grasshoppers, which plagued parts of Routt County during the past the past two summers, are most vulnerable when they are juveniles, according to experts. Whether homeowners choose a chemical or biological insecticide, the best opportunity to put a dent in the population of ravenous insects is now.

“Right now. Use that Nolo Bait. You can kill the babies right now,” said Doug Post of True Value Hardware. “It won’t harm kids and it won’t harm dogs.”

Colby Townsend at Elk River Farm and Feed has several chemical pesticides that can kill grasshoppers and sells them in quantities suitable for homeowners as well as for rural property owners and farmers. One product available for people who want to protect small vegetable and flower gardens without harming most benign insects is Ecobran. The product can be bought in 44-pound bags for $69.50 or in 2-pound shaker containers for $15.95. Two pounds is enough to cover almost 10,000 square feet. The active ingredient in Ecobran is an insecticide called Carbaryl. The bran attracts grasshoppers, which feed on it, thus ingesting the poison.

True Value offers a liquid form of Carbaryl under the brand name, “Sevn.”

C.J. Mucklow of the Routt County CSU Extension office said his office is recommending Ecobran because it is specific to the grasshoppers that ingest it and poses “very, very low risk,” to humans and pets.

The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) occupational exposure of humans to Carbaryl can lead to reduced levels of an enzyme in the blood and cause neurological effects. Carbaryl has not been identified as a carcinogen.

A report released by the Extension office recommended strategies for in-town homeowners and concluded: “If you really want to reduce numbers (of grasshoppers), you must use a chemical pesticide. It is the Extension office’s opinion that Carbaryl bran is the most effective pesticide that doesn’t kill large numbers of nontarget insects.”

For people averse to using chemical insecticides, Nolo Bait is an alternative that is nontoxic to humans and pets and to other insects such as bees. It is not as effective as chemical insecticides — generally 30 percent effective against juvenile grasshoppers, Mucklow said.

Before property owners begin to use insecticides — chemical or biological — to attack hoppers, they should assess the extent of their problem, Mucklow’s office recommends. Visually inspect several 1-square-foot areas on the property. If property owners observe four or more grasshoppers in each square foot, the threshold for treatment has been met. At that point, it’s also a good idea to encourage neighbors to do the same.

Nolo Bait is a microsporidial pathogen that infects the fat bodies of most species of grasshoppers and some crickets. It is most effective on grasshoppers between one-half, and three-quarter of an inch long. True Value sells Nolo Bait for $19.99 a pound. The manufacturer, M&R Durango Inc., of Bayfield, said that grasshopper death will occur within three to six weeks, and the pathogen will multiply and spread from grasshopper to grasshopper. The pathogen can remain effective for years, according to the manufacturer.

Nolo Bait has a limited shelf life; it’s most effective when used within 13 weeks of its formulation. Consumers should be able to find the formulation date on a sticker on the lid of the container.

Ecobran is faster acting than Nolo Bait but more toxic. A rainstorm will diminish the effectiveness of Ecobran, Townsend said.

Mucklow emphasizes it is important for consumers to read, understand and conform to the instructions for safe handling on labels of all forms of pesticides.

— To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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