Grasshoppers making East Texas ranchers hopping mad

Rancher Gerald 'Bubba' Green knew he had a grasshopper problem when flocks of white egrets started keeping company with his cattle.

"They won't be wanting to leave. They stay there," said Green "Won't be one or two of them. There will be, probably, a bunch of them."

Grasshoppers can be caught munching on what's intended for the cattle. They like valuable hay meadows too.

"You have 15 or 20 grasshoppers in a square foot area, which is actually not that many, (in)about a month's time they can eat up to about a ton of hay," said Crispen Skinner, AgriLife agent in Nacogdoches County.

The pests started showing up as early as mid April. Mid summer is when they usually first start hopping around.

"They may not be very big grasshoppers now, but in a few weeks they will be," said Green.

The only answer is to use chemicals, safe around everything else, but deadly to grasshoppers.

"It's going to be an added expense," said Skinner. "You can look at anywhere from $10-$15 per acre, depending on the chemical. Sometimes it will be up to $80 an acre."

The expense can be added to the cost of supplemental feeding. "I stopped here about 3 weeks after this last big rain, but I picked it back up yesterday because the grass is starting to wilt again because of the high heat," explained Green.

Ranchers are culling their cattle for a lack of grass. Older cows go first. Then reluctantly, the younger ones.

There's not much a rancher can do about the weather.

"All we can do is keep hope alive," smiled Skinner.

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