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Why do grasshoppers seem to be everywhere in Montana?

If you think you are seeing a lot, you're right
Posted at 3:03 PM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 17:03:56-04

If you think you have been seeing a lot of grasshoppers the last few weeks in the Montana fields, you’d be right. While this is not an uncommon sight at this time of year, what is uncommon is their high numbers.

This perfect storm of insects was brought on by the weather we’ve been having, according to experts.

“If we have a drier spring or a wetter fall in the preceding season, it can be a season where we can get more grasshoppers. And this year we had a combination of both," said Ed McIntosh, KTVQ's longtime meteorologist, on Thursday.

Amy Grandpre, the horticultural assistant of Yellowstone County, puts it more simply.

“I think we have a plague," she said, laughing. "I’ll just say it right now. We have a plague.”

And this plague eats almost everything in sight.

“I’ve seen them eat everything from my hollyhocks and lilies, to the grass and everything in between. Whatever is in their way and if they have eaten everything else, they will move on to something else.”

They even eat each other. That’s right- they’re cannibals.

And other than being food for one another and for birds, grasshoppers are mainly just a nuisance.

So how do we cope?

Grandpre says we have to do battle with pesticides like Sevin and floating covers to protect our gardens. Ultimately when grasshoppers lose their food source, they move on. So we have to deny or deter them from eating.

But is there a silver bullet in the fight against grasshoppers?

“It’s called winter. Winter will come," Grandpre said.

If you would like a free brochure on grasshoppers or more information on ways to protect your lawn and garden, log onto the Yellowstone County Extension's website or their office at 406-256-2828.