The first official count of grasshoppers in the county suggests infestations this summer may not be as bad as in previous summers.
"It tells me we have spottier infestations, and that it's not going to be as widespread and severe," Routt County Extension Agent C.J. Mucklow said. "I could be wrong, but that's my guess."
The numbers seem to confirm what Mucklow and other residents have counted in their yards and across the county, he said. However, because it is early in the season, grasshopper densities have time to grow.
An official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture counted the insects in an area west of Steamboat Springs. The area, which was shaped like a half circle, stretched north to Routt County Road 52, west to Milner, and south to a section of Colorado Highway 131.
Grasshopper infestations are measured by the number of grasshoppers per square yard, with an infestation being considered as more than 20 of the insects per square yard.
The official count revealed zero grasshoppers in some areas and up to 42 grasshoppers in others, Mucklow said.
Last year at this time, official counts showed a more widespread infestation, with multiple areas having 100 or more grasshoppers in a square yard, Mucklow said.
The official counter told Mucklow he would return in a few weeks to recount, as it could be too early to tell what level of infestation the area will have.
Officials do not spray for grasshoppers until the infestation is severe. Because this summer's counts are close to the infestation threshold, it is important to do careful counts before spraying, Mucklow said.
But last year, when many places had counts of more than 100 grasshoppers in a square yard, it was possible to spray in places with the worst infestations instead of carefully counting in each spot.
Areas with bad infestations include C.R. 56, the Whitewood Subdivision, an area across from the Elk Mountain Cemetery and the Meadows in Dakota Ridge. Some areas that had "horrendous" infestations last year are not seeing an infestation this year, Mucklow said.
"(The numbers) just confirmed what everybody else has counted," Mucklow said. There are some pockets of grasshoppers at high densities, "But broadly speaking, it's not as bad as last year."
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