July 15th, 2024

Grasshopper and foxtail mitigation central to city report

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on June 22, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

City council on Tuesday accepted as information a report from Parks and Cemeteries general manager Blair Richter on foxtail and grasshopper mitigation plans.
In 2021, the City had an increase in complaints about weeds and foxtails in Lethbridge while some neighbourhoods on the westside endured problems with an influx of grasshoppers because of the hot and dry summer.
A City management plan includes the opportunity to create test plots and implement control measures to evaluate the effectiveness of a chosen control program. These plots will include measures such as diatomaceous earth, targeted water and applications of vegetable oil.
The City is also working to mitigate foxtail issues. The city is continuing with pre-emergent spraying this summer and will do regular spraying through the season. Pre-emergent spraying will also be done this fall. Residents are encouraged to avoid areas with foxtail to keep pets safe.
In 2021, with reduced mowing and staff numbers, drought left areas of high salinity exposed, allowing for seed germination. With no spraying of medians, this allowed for seed germination in areas that usually would have been managed by herbicide, says a City report.
Last fall, Parks & Cemeteries did pre-emergent spraying at 98 locations in the city. This year, an additional seven labourers have been hired to help with mowing and trimming while another 12 labourers have been hired to work on shrubs. There are also two additional chemical applicators.
This year could be an improvement for the grasshopper situation, the SPC was told by Dan Johnson, a University of Lethbridge professor of Environmental Science who is working with the city Parks & Cemeteries department on a mitigation plan.
Johnson told the SPC only one species of grasshopper, Melanoplus bivittatus, or two-striped hopper, built up and benefited from the hot weather in 2021 which featured an unprecedented warm July.
Mitigating factors to a worsening situation this summer include more of a fungal disease that attacks grasshoppers after rain last year. Johnson said that infection of entomophagy grylli was worse than he’d seen in 20 or 30 years, which was a good thing, Johnson added, and cut back numbers by about half.

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