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Grasshoppers not a big problem in upper Midwest

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) -- Grasshoppers are not doing as much damage in the upper Midwest as officials had feared, despite this summer's drought.

A federal study of adult grasshoppers last year concluded that the pests could be a threat this summer in much of the region, particularly in Montana and South Dakota. Warm, dry conditions last fall extended the grasshopper egg-laying season, and the mild winter was kind to the insects.

Officials feared that dry conditions this summer would further boost grasshopper numbers because of the lack of heavy rains to kill young hoppers, according to Agweek.

Grasshoppers might be doing significant damage in small, local areas, but overall, "it's not as bad as we expected," said Gary Adams, state plant health director in Montana for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The reason is unclear but disease might play a role. Wet conditions in the spring and summer of 2011 might have left more pathogens, or disease-causing germs, in the soil, cutting into grasshopper numbers this year, Adams said.

Grasshoppers in eastern South Dakota have not reached the level to economically justify spraying pesticides on soybeans, said Adrianna Szczepaniec, assistant professor of entomology at South Dakota State University.