As if things weren't bad enough for Texas hay growers and livestock producers, the nearly statewide severe and extended drought is also likely to promote the development of grasshoppers, warns an entomologist for Texas AgriLife Extension.
"Grasshopper populations are normally maintained at lower levels by natural controls, including diseases," says Chris Sansone. "The main disease is a fungus, and most fungi do better during cool, wet conditions. Since we didn't have cool, wet conditions in the spring, the fungus isn't thriving, and since the fungus isn't thriving, we're having higher populations of grasshoppers."
To date, Sansone says, grasshopper infestations have been hit and miss in the state. Most reports about problems have been coming out of East Texas, South Texas and the San Antonio area. "This year has been interesting because the drought has been so severe. If people haven't had any showers at all – even those late-afternoon showers of a tenth or two-tenths of an inch – we're not seeing any grasshopper outbreaks."
That's probably because there's not enough food in pastures and rangeland to sustain a grasshopper population, he says. "These areas that have been catching afternoon showers are seeing the worst outbreaks."
Learn more about grasshopper control.