USDA wants public input on grasshopper, cricket spray planGrasshoppers and crickets can do a number on crops and soil and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service wants input on a proposed program, which could include spraying to rid of them in western North Dakota.
By: By Lisa Miller, The Dickinson Press
Grasshoppers and crickets can do a number on crops and soil and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service wants input on a proposed program, which could include spraying to rid of them in western North Dakota.
Determining how many grasshoppers and crickets is too many is completely case by case, North Dakota Plant Health Director Dave Hirsch said.
“In wet years, ecosystems can handle more grasshoppers and mormon crickets than they can in dry years, so determining a set number is too many is really hard to say,” he said.
The reason officials consider spraying grasshoppers and mormon crickets is that they can be detrimental to ecosystems and cropland, he added.
The proposed program will have no significant impact on humans, animals, food, air, water or historic places, according to an environmental assessment.
However, grasshoppers and mormon crickets cause forage loss to cattle and wildlife, reduce cover available to wildlife, increase soil erosion and eat and damage crops, Hirsch said.
Grasshoppers haven’t been a problem in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, said Eileen Andes, park chief of interpretation and public affairs.
“Therefore we have not participated in any grasshopper control programs for years, if ever,” she said.
The state does an environmental assessment and then seeks public comment.
USDA officials monitor grasshopper and cricket populations and wait to hear complaints from county officials or farmers and ranchers before spraying.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service outlined reasonable measures for the Inspection Service to follow, Hirsch said. So there will be no adverse effects to federally listed endangered or threatened species.
There is a possibility of indirect effects on local wildlife populations, particularly insectivorous birds and other animals that depend on a readily available supply of insects, including grasshoppers, for their own food supply and for their young, according to the assesment.
Also, the chemicals used have been shown to reduce brain cholinesterase levels in birds which could cause an inability to gather food, escape predation or care for young. Some animals may be at risk of fatality or behavioral alterations or anomalies to because of the chemicals, according to the assessment.
There is also a chance of adverse effects on bird reproduction through the use of chemicals or diesel oil through direct toxicity to developing embryos in birds’ eggs.
Smaller mammals and birds who consume Carbaryl wheat bran bait after it has been applied to grasshopper-infested areas are at risk of receiving toxic doses and some fatalities might occur.
Counties included in the study are Adams, Billings, Bowman, Burke, Burleigh, Divide, Dunn, Emmons, Grant, Golden Valley, Hettinger, Logan, McIntosh, McKenzie, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Mountrail, Oliver, Sioux, Slope, Stark, Ward and Williams.