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Thousands Of Small Bites, One Big Problem

July 21, 2010, 10:06 PM by Austin Hoffman

MEADE COUNTY, SD - First it was hail, now farmers in western South Dakota are facing a different battle, a grasshopper infestation.

They may be small, but they're causing a big problem.

"Some areas are worse than others, but it seems like the greener, in the alfalfa and in the winter, or spring wheat, there's probably 50 per square foot," Ron Grubl, a farmer in Mead County, said.

An infestation of grasshoppers is so bad in Meade County, it's taken over Grubl's fields.

"Mainly they're chewing about an inch below the head, the head of the wheat or the oats," Grubl said.

Pennington County Weed and Pest Supervisor, Scott Guffey, said this is one of the worst outbreaks in nearly 90 years.

"Talking with some of the other experts, the thirties was the last time we had a super bad outbreak, we've had some smaller ones throughout then, but the thirties was really bad," Guffy said.

Grubel says with the kind of year they've been having, this problem usually doesn't happen.

"Beings we had a cool spring, that usually means you don't have grasshoppers that bad, this year it didn't seem to make a difference," Grubl said.

"The problem was it didn't get warm enough for us to have a hatch, you gotta have a hatch and then if you have that cool wet weather, we would have got rid of a lot of them, but essentially all it did was delay the hatch for us, so we still got the high numbers," Guffy said.

Guffy said their just lucky it's not much worse.

"If we were in a drought condition right now, you know we'd have a disaster on our hands, because there just wouldn't be the feed going around, ranchers and farmers would be really hurting right now," Guffy said.

Which would make the grasshoppers bite, hurt even more.

Some farmers are now spraying their fields to kill the grasshoppers. They hope this is the worst the grasshoppers will get.

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