A Plague of Grasshoppers Threaten Montana Farmers and Ranchers
The severe drought in Montana is getting worse. The drought is creating a problem for Montana's farmers and ranchers. Not only are they having a tough time growing crops and gathering hay. They are competing with hordes of grasshoppers, unlike any we have seen in nearly 100 years.
Let me just start by saying, I HATE GRASSHOPPERS. As a big strong man, I still have a childhood fear of grasshoppers. YEAH! I KNOW! ITS WEIRD! While some people are afraid of spiders and snakes, I am fearful of harmless grasshoppers. Why? I can vividly remember sitting in the back seat of my Mom's car. Lets say I was 5 years old. We were driving a back country road. While doing roughly 45mph, and the windows down, a grasshopper flew through the window. The hopper pelted me in the face. I can still remember looking at the grasshopper in my peripherals. It was a short second later that the hopper spit a black goo in my eye. I FREAKED! I haven't been the same for 33 years. Which is probably why news of a plague of grasshoppers sounds more like a zombie apocalypse to me.
What is causing the giant numbers of hoppers?
According to history.com
A plague of these insects can occur when conditions cause their populations to suddenly explode. Usually this happens under drought or very dry conditions, since their egg pods are vulnerable to fungus in wet soil. When the soil is very dry, swarms can develop.
The last time we saw such large numbers of hoppers, was during the 1930s. This means we could see some serious economic problems, if things don't lean further in the farmers and ranchers favor.
According to Kulr8 in Billings
Cole Hinnaland, a farmer near Circle says he seeded 250 acres of barley and hay last year which was completely eaten by grasshoppers in the spring when they hatched.
Another rancher in Volborg, Ken Gaskill says he is seeing significant forage reduction which is disrupting their grazing strategies.
For the record. I have overcome my fear of hoppers only slightly in years past. As an avid fisherman, I have had to "suck it up" and catch a few grasshoppers in order to take advantage of some good fishing. I still squeal a little when I put them on the hook, but it is mostly from the inside.