Grasshopper as a Pest Information Platform for Education and Extension

There has been an extensive amount of research on the impact grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acrididae) on forage grasses. Over the past 25 years, this research has been embodied in a number of evolving models, which collectively form an IPM program for controlling grasshoppers. Hopper Version 4 combines three submodels (RanchMod, HopMod, and RangeMod) to estimate rangeland productivity, soil moisture, livestock prices, accessibility and cost of alternative forages, effectiveness and timing of treatments, and grasshopper numbers and compositions. APHIS has also conducted surveys to document the distributions of grasshoppers and the efficacy of treatment regimes.

At present, Hopper is a desktop, DOS-based program that has been modified for use with Windows 2000 and XP operating systems. Due to lost code and legacy issues, the current desktop program is not a long-term, viable solution for distributing information about the rangeland management of grasshoppers. While the computer version of the program may be dated, the contents of the Hopper program are still valuable. Accordingly, there is an important need to evaluate and update the current Hopper program, and to integrate surveying and modeling activities into an effective decision support platform for managing grasshoppers.

A PSU/ZedX team of researchers has taken on the task of developing a web-based pest information platform that integrates field surveys, models, and treatment guidelines to direct rangers and other rangeland managers in the ecologically-sound and economically desirable application of pesticides for controlling grasshoppers. The work during the first year of the Cooperative Agreement will be to evaluate and provide recommendations for the Hopper v4.0 IPM program.