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Help! Grasshoppers are out of control!

Posted September 11, 2012

Nolo Bait to the rescue... It is totally safe for you, your garden and pets!

The active disease organism in Nolo Bait™ is host specific to grasshoppers and Mormon crickets. Mormon crickets are actually a species of grasshopper. Any other non-target insect, bird, mammal or reptile that ingests the bait or eats an infected grasshopper will not be affected. The disease organism will pass through their digestive system without becoming active.

How should I apply Nolo Bait™?

Nolo Bait™ is a dry, flaky wheat bran bait. Any dry spreader such as a “Whirly Bird” can be used or it can easily be applied by hand.

Where should I apply Nolo Bait™?

Apply Nolo Bait™ along the perimeter of your yard or property, anywhere there is tall grass and along weedy ditch banks. If possible, let the grasses/weeds at the outer margins of your yard grow taller and apply the bait there. This may reduce the number of grasshoppers migrating into your yard/garden area. In gardens or flowerbeds it is best to make bait stations to hold the bait and/or to spread the bait beneath and between the plants. This will help you to avoid drawing additional grasshoppers into the area while allowing those already present to feed on it. Bait stations can be made from anything that will protect the bait from rain and sun. Empty tins cans with both ends cut out work well and can be placed in the shade of the plants on the ground. Keeping these bait stations available will entice grasshoppers to fill up on bait rather than plant material.

When should I apply Nolo Bait™?

Morning is best as grasshoppers will do most of their feeding in the morning but late afternoon is good too. Though you may see them around, grasshoppers don’t feed as heavily during the heat of the day. Avoid applying Nolo Bait™ when rain is forecast within the next 4-6 hours or if dew is still present on the grass.

How much Nolo Bait™ should I put out and how often?

The minimum application rate is 1 pound per acre, per application. This is based on grasshopper densities of 8 grasshoppers per square yard. Nolo Bait™ can be applied as often as every few days to once a week and can be concentrated in areas of heaviest grasshopper infestation. Consumption of a higher number of spores per grasshopper will increase efficacy and decrease the amount of time required to kill the grasshoppers. Therefore, where faster population reduction is required, this may be achieved through multiple applications or a higher application rate in order to increase the amount of bait available to each grasshopper.

How fast does Nolo Bait™ work?

First instars or new hatch-lings will die quickly, usually within a day or two of eating it. Older, larger hoppers won’t die as quickly but will become slow, lethargic and reduce their feeding. Nolo Bait™ is a long-term suppression product. It will reduce the feeding and reproductive capabilities of the grasshoppers that ingest it. In turn, these grasshoppers are often cannibalized by healthy hoppers that have migrated in and thus the disease spreads into the population. Successive use each season will result in fewer and fewer eggs being laid and fewer grasshoppers surviving until spring.

How can I tell if Nolo Bait™ is working?

Infected hoppers will be slower to hop and may fall over upon landing. Often they are reluctant to hop at all. Their eyes become cloudy instead of dark brown and the abdomens of sick hoppers will become whiter as well. Dead, partially cannibalized grasshoppers may be found clinging to stalks of grass/weeds. New hatchlings that ingested the bait die quickly and are rarely seen as they are readily consumed by other grasshoppers, insects, birds and reptiles. Due to the nature of this product (i.e. microsporidial pathogen), efficacy may be affected by such factors as weather, grasshopper population densities and insect migration.

What if my Nolo Bait™ gets wet?

Water does not harm the disease spore but the wheat bran becomes soggy and less attractive to the grasshoppers. Avoid putting out the bait if rain is forecast.

How should I store my Nolo Bait™ if necessary?

Optimal storage is 42 degrees F in a dry location. We are committed to providing you with the highest quality ingredients in our grasshopper bait, freshly formulated upon order. Our spore is regularly tested to guarantee its viability. This insures that our product will remain 100% active in cool, dry storage conditions for up to 13 weeks from the date of formulation. 

What is Paranosema (Nosema) locustae?

Paranosema (Nosema) locustae spores, the active ingredient in Nolo Bait, are probably more closely related to fungi than previously understood. When applied to the flaky wheat bran in Nolo Bait™, Paranosema (Nosema) locustae spores are in a protected state, waiting to be ingested by the grasshopper. According to scientific research, Paranosema (Nosema) locustae spores are capable of persisting in the soil for years.

How exactly does Nolo Bait™ work?

Once the Paranosema (Nosema) locustae spores are ingested by the grasshopper they become activated in the grasshopper's mid-gut. The spores germinate or extrude a filament from the cell wall. In the process of extruding this filament, the spores pierce the mid-gut wall of the grasshopper and in very young grasshoppers death usually occurs very quickly. This is due to septicemia or bacteria invading the grasshopper and causing death. In more mature grasshoppers the spores continue to reproduce, utilizing the fat body of the grasshopper for energy. As the Paranosema (Nosema) locustae population increases inside the grasshopper it becomes lethargic, reduces its feeding and has lowered reproduction capability. In addition, grasshoppers are quite cannibalistic and healthy grasshoppers will feed on their slow, sickly companions. This enables theParanosema (Nosema) locustae to spread throughout the population and infect other grasshoppers that migrate into the area. Infected female grasshoppers can also pass the infection along in the sticky substance that surrounds the egg pods. As the newly hatching grasshoppers chew their way out of the egg pod they also become infected and will mostly likely die before reaching the first molt.

How can I tell if Nolo Bait™ is working, what will I see?

Due to the nature of the disease, the effects will vary according to the age and species of the grasshopper and the number of spores that the grasshopper ingested. In very young, newly hatched grasshoppers death may occur within one to three weeks. Once grasshoppers reach the third stage of growth (3rd instar) they have developed enough body mass to allow the spores to reproduce to some extent. The infected grasshoppers will become lethargic and dramatically slow or quit feeding, but will not die. When they are disturbed they will typically hop and upon landing fall to one side or the other. Then, they typically crawl unsteadily a little way before hopping again. Often they will not hop again unless forced to do so. They may crawl up a grass stalk or seek someplace to "roost" or cling to and it is often in this position that infected grasshoppers will remain and evidence of cannibalism will be apparent. 

Healthy grasshoppers will feed on infected grasshoppers from the abdomen up to the thorax which is just behind the front legs. They don't usually eat the head or the hard "plate-like" shield behind the head which covers the thorax. Visual examination of a grasshopper for evidence of infection can be done by holding a live grasshopper just behind the head along the hard plate. Turn the grasshopper over and look at the underside of the abdomen. On each side of the abdomen there are two depressions which run the length of the abdomen. In many species of healthy grasshoppers the depressions will be a darker color than the rest of the abdomen or even look like lines running the length of the abdomen. When a grasshopper becomes infected with Nosema, often these lines will disappear and the entire abdomen will become a "creamy" whitish or grayish color. This can be an indicator that spore reproduction is heavy. Often, in a heavily infected individual, the eyes will also lose their dark color and become whitish or hazy looking. 

Infection with Nosema can make death occur more quickly to grasshoppers already carrying other common diseases. An example of this is seen in an associated disease called Malamoeba locustae. Malamoeba locustae occurs commonly in most grasshopper populations. It is not usually present in large enough numbers to cause death. Once the grasshopper ingests Nosema, however,Malamoeba levels can soar - triggered by the Nosema infection. Both organisms compete for the fat body to reproduce. The cause of death, when Malamoeba is present at the same time as Nosema, can be ascertained by a dark brownish-black coloration of the abdomen and dark body fluid seeping out. The abdomen will hang limp and readily fall apart. 

It is important to note that the most obvious results may be seen the season after your initial application. This is due to an overall decrease in egg laying capability and infection of the new spring hatch. Follow-up applications, each year grasshopper populations are on the increase, are useful to continue this process.

How do I apply Nolo Bait™?

It is very important to understand that the active ingredient in Nolo Bait™ is a subtle disease organism that takes time to develop to levels that can be readily identified. By putting out the bait at the minimum label rate of 1 lb. per acre equivalent, you are performing what is called an "inoculative" release. This will begin the disease process in the population present at that time; however, depending on the grasshopper population densities and varying age groups at the time, the level of resulting infection will vary. 

For instance, if you have more than 8 grasshoppers per sq. yard (the number considered economically damaging by the USDA) and put out one pound to the acre one time, you will probably have serious competition for each flake of bran out there. Quite possibly there will be a large percentage of grasshoppers that don't even get one flake to themselves. In that case, there will be many that will not become infected, until they begin consuming those around them that have become sick enough to become attractive as a food source. Due to grasshoppers' extremely migratory nature and ability to move over great distances, it is optimal to inoculate your area frequently throughout the season. This will help to spread the infection further and aid in long term control. Used correctly, Nolo Bait™ will have a noticeable impact on populations aiding in long term suppression of successive generations. 

Grasshopper cycles peak and valley approximately every 7-9 years. This can vary by one to two years either way, but basically, every 7-9 years or so they will reach a high or low. Winter and spring weather will have an effect on the spring hatch as well. It is helpful to check with the Department of Agriculture in your state to find out what the population predictions are for your area on a year-by-year basis. You can then plan your releases accordingly. If populations are cycling upward, it is definitely advisable to initiate the disease process immediately and to continue to inoculate each year until the peak has happened and the downward cycle becomes evident. The more area treated on a consistent basis, the more long term control you can expect to take place. Optimally, spreading bait frequently throughout the season will be more advantageous than just once at the label minimum application rate. 

Though young grasshoppers will be killed more quickly by Nosema than adults, if you are not planning follow up treatments throughout the season, spring may not be the optimal time to infect, simply because infecting small grasshoppers does not offer long term carryover. The young grasshoppers die too quickly, dry up and disappear before spreading the disease to their comrades. Healthy grasshoppers migrate in and if there are no infected grasshoppers around for them to feed on the population will remain unchecked.

Comments (2 Comments)

Absolutely Safe for those beneficial insects!

Posted by Ali's Organics on January 24, 2013

Along with grasshoppers (yuk), my yard hosts many praying mantis and I even had katydids (double yuk) last year. Nolo Bait for grasshoppers ONLY sounds like a real-life miracle. Promise it won"t mess with my ever growing praying mantis’? Thank You!

Posted by DonnaRae on January 23, 2013

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