Crop-eating insect wiped out in Box Elder County


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BOX ELDER COUNTY -- We finally have good news for some farmers: the black grass bug has been defeated. It's an insect that was eating away at the crops of several farms throughout Utah, particularly in Box Elder County.

Farmers were very concerned about the bug because it was eating grass, wheat, alfalfa and other crops. The bug would actually suck all the chlorophyll out of the plant and leave behind sort of a white, empty shell. Now, though, after the spraying the bug is gone.

"The spraying program was, we feel like, in the valley, a hundred percent success," said Arthur Douglas.

Douglas is a farmer in the Howell Valley part of Box Elder County and got some great news Thursday. That spraying program he's talking about worked better than anyone here could've expected.

Last month, using a helicopter and airplane, farmers and the Utah and U.S. Department of Agriculture got together to spray some 10,000 acres in Box Elder County. The thousands upon thousands of black grass bugs took a lot of people by surprise.

Since many crops were already damaged, they had to act fast, which it looks like they did. "The economic benefits we've seen is miraculous," Douglas said.

The cost to spray all these acres was about $100,000, which to some might seem like a lot of money for some spray, but if it wasn't done, the loss to farmers would've been in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more.

"As many bugs as there were in the crops and the grasses, I don't know if you can calculate that of where it would've been," Douglas said.

Spraying was also done in San Juan and Sanpete counties, all of it considered a success. "Things look a lot better with the control measures we had in place," Douglas said.

Of course, farmers always have to worry about their crops. Now that the black grass bug is gone, it's getting to be that time of year for grasshoppers and Mormon Crickets. It's not easy being a farmer.

E-mail: acabrero@ksl.com

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Alex Cabrero

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