It will be mid-August before the infestation of clearwinged grasshoppers plaguing Gardnerville residents finally subsides, according to Nevada Department of Agriculture Entomologist Jeff Knight.
“I’ve been doing this for going on about 37 years in Nevada, and this is the first report of this kind of an outbreak of this kind of grasshopper in Carson Valley,” he said. “I got calls from at least one grower and worked with them about whether to treat.”
Knight said there wasn’t much people could do now that the insects have reached adulthood.
“I was hoping to hear seagulls during the invocation,” he said, referring to the tale where Mormon pioneers’ crops were saved from katydids. “It worked before.”
One resident said that 80 percent of her yard has been devoured, prompting the homeowners association to notify her she was out of compliance.
“This is a species that tends to like grass, and the more grass out there the more they will reproduce,” Knight said.
Knight said regular insecticides could clear a yard, but there would be more.
Unlike Mormon crickets plaguing northeastern Nevada, the grasshoppers can fly, as anyone who has travelled Buckeye and Orchard roads knows.
“Once grasshoppers are winged they are very very difficult to control,” he said.
Residents said the hoppers were chowing down on their lawns and shrubbery.
The best plan, Knight said, would be to find out where the female grasshoppers are laying eggs so when they hatch next spring, residents can be ready for them.
“They just pop out of the ground like popcorn,” he said. “Often there are hundreds, if not thousands per square yard.”
Nymphs take about 4-6 weeks to mature and once they become winged, then they start mating and laying eggs.
He said the numbers will drop off as males die off after mating.
One spray he suggested can be used to prevent nymphs’ chitin from hardening when they molt and they essentially explode.
“It’s a gruesome death, actually,” he said. “If you know where those egg beds are you can reduce the amount of treatment you have to do, substantially.”
He said it’s possible that the infestation may return next year.
“Once they start laying eggs, it’s better to wait until next year, they will be real high for a couple of years, like you’re seeing now, and then they are down for 7-8 years. The cycle is primarily controlled by predators, parasites and diseases.”
The outbreak started on the land around Mountain View Pond and into the Heybourne Meadows, but they’ve made their presence known over a much larger range.
“Eggs can be killed by very low temperatures, which didn’t happen this year, especially with the snow,” he said.