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Aerial grasshopper treatments in Niarada to keep swarm down

By Adriana Fehrs

A grasshopper sits ever so precariously on a blade of grass. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) conducted aerial treatments on June 30 in the Niarada area. The goal of APHIS’ grasshopper program is not to eradicate grasshoppers but to reduce outbreak populations to less economically damaging levels. (Adriana Fehrs photo)  A grasshopper sits ever so precariously on a blade of grass. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) conducted aerial treatments on June 30 in the Niarada area. The goal of APHIS’ grasshopper program is not to eradicate grasshoppers but to reduce outbreak populations to less economically damaging levels. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

NIARADA — As an attempt to stave off grasshopper infestations in valuable rangeland, a joint effort by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS), the Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ), with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, applied pesticide treatments to an area north of Niarada on June 30.

Gary D. Adams, State Plant Health Director, explains “The USDA/APHIS/PPQ conducted aerial grasshopper treatments in the Niarada area of your community on June 30, at the written request of local agricultural producers who are losing valuable forage and crops to this insect. These treatments were applied using a newer method of integrated pest management called RAAT’s (Reduced Agent and Area Treatments) - which means a lower rate of chemical on treated swaths alternating with untreated swaths. This is more environmentally friendly to all, while at the same time lowering the cost to those that have to pay for the program.”

The goal of APHIS’ grasshopper program is not to eradicate grasshoppers but to reduce outbreak populations to less economically damaging levels. In these States, APHIS conducts field surveys of grasshopper populations, provides technical assistance to landowners, and conducts suppression treatments when necessary and when funds are available.

CSKT sent a request for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) to conduct surveys of early season populations of immature grasshoppers to assess if suppression programs are warranted. Officials found that the area contained about six to 100 grasshoppers per yard. The APHIS conducted aerial treatments to 6,000 acres of rangeland in the Niarada area. (Adriana Fehrs photo) CSKT sent a request for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) to conduct surveys of early season populations of immature grasshoppers to assess if suppression programs are warranted. Officials found that the area contained about six to 100 grasshoppers per yard. The APHIS conducted aerial treatments to 6,000 acres of rangeland in the Niarada area. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

CSKT sent a request for the APHIS to conduct surveys of early season populations of immature grasshoppers and surveys of adult grasshoppers in mid to late season to assess if suppression programs are warranted. Officials found that the area contained about six to 100 grasshoppers per yard, which is considered a large amount.

Richard “Joe” Merenz, PPQ Officer, says, “The land that is held in trust, the U.S. Government will pay for the treatments, but if it is fee land, the U.S. Government will pay one third of the costs, and the tax payer will pay the rest.” As a part of a government planned protection act, certain funds are delegated to protect rangeland against catastrophic loss.

The aerial treatments were only administered to large rangeland north of Niarada – an area of about 6,000 acres. Pilots flew out of the Ronan airport early Monday morning, and wrapped up treatments at noon.

Time is of the essence, according to the PPQ. “We had to spray now, because the chemicals only work when the grasshoppers are still in their juvenile stage,” says Merenz.

For additional information on APHIS’ grasshopper program, please visit the APHIS Web site at www.aphis.usda.gov or contact your State’s plant health director, Gary D. Adams, at (406) 449-5210.

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