Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2003
Publication Date: 1/24/2004
Citation: VERMEIRE, L.T., MITCHELL, R., FUHLENDORF, S.D. CONTROL OF RANGELAND GRASSHOPPERS USING PRESCRIBED FIRE. SOCIETY FOR RANGE MANAGEMENT MEETING PROCEEDINGS. Abstract #300. 2004.
Technical Abstract: Grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acrididae) are considered among the most damaging rangeland pests yet desired for the development of many wildlife species. Most grasshoppers are innocuous, but control with insecticides is non-discriminatory among species. Our objectives were to evaluate the effects of prescribed burning on the abundance and biomass of grasshoppers and to determine if species could be selectively controlled with prescribed fire. Twenty-four 4-ha sites were selected in a sand sagebrush-mixed prairie near Woodward, Okla. and blocked by pasture. Plots were randomly assigned fall-, spring-, or non-burned treatments within block with 4 replications per treatment for each of 2 years. Grasshopper biomass and abundance were sampled in late July and early August by sweeping with canvas beating nets. Specimens were weighed to the nearest 0.1 mg and identified to species. Fire treatments had no effects on the abundance or biomass of grasshoppers across species, with about 10 grasshoppers weighing 4,090 mg per 150 sweeps. Fire effects on the 4 most common species were variable and could be explained by the biology of the animals. Melanoplus bowditchi and M. flavidus were unaffected by fire treatment. Hesperotettix viridis is sensitive to damage to its host plants and was reduced about 88% by fire in either season. Fall burns reduced Ageneotettix deorum abundance by 65% because the species' eggs are laid near the soil surface and exposed to the heat of passing fire. Fire prescriptions can be written to target species-specific vulnerabilities and control pest grasshoppers while maintaining the food base for grasshopper predators.