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Plans moving ahead to mitigate foxtails and grasshoppers

​Last year, Lethbridge faced one of the worst droughts in recent history. This lack of precipitation contributed to a significant increase of foxtails and grasshoppers in the community.

On Wednesday, members of the Civic Standing Policy Committee were provided an update on the work the Parks and Cemeteries department has done to date and forthcoming work to mitigate foxtail and grasshopper issues in 2022.

This year is anticipated to have below average levels of precipitation, similar to 2021, so Parks and Cemeteries have identified several strategies, including:

  • Pre-emergent spraying for foxtails that began in the fall of 2021, focusing on medians and planting beds in parks
  • Grasshopper predictions were performed in the fall of 2021
  • Continuing with pre-emergent spraying for foxtails in the spring of 2022 and regular spraying will continue throughout the season
  • Communication to the public via social media and webpage updates to help inform citizens on how to identify these issues, what they can do and how to notify the City
  • Grasshopper monitoring plan to begin in early June
  • If grasshopper populations increase, explore different treatment options by partnering with Dan Johnson from the University of Lethbridge
  • Pre-emergent spraying for foxtails to occur in the fall of 2022

"We commend our Parks and Cemeteries department for their proactive work on these issues," says Acting Mayor Belinda Crowson, Chair of the Civic Works SPC. "We listened to people last year but when the problem arose it was too late for immediate treatment within Administration's control. We also continue to encourage residents to bring issues to these SPC meetings to allow these community conversations."

"This year does have potential for high grasshopper numbers again, so we have taken measures to help mitigate where we can," says Blair Richter, General Manager of Parks & Cemeteries. "We know westside neighbourhoods experienced an influx of grasshoppers due to the hot and dry summer, with those adjacent to farmland experiencing the largest volumes. We are certainly aware of the situation and will continue to work towards solutions within our control."

The City of Lethbridge has been working with Johnson, a Professor of Environmental Science at the U of L, who has provided input into the grasshopper management plan for 2022 and is willing to assist with population monitoring and providing treatment recommendations throughout the year. His background includes research in biogeography, environmentally sustainable agriculture, entomology, biodiversity, rational pest management, biological control, ecology, insect movement, biometeorology, alternatives to chemical pesticides, insects as vectors of plant diseases, methods of forecasting, wildlife ecology, environmental safety, and analysis and modeling of environmental and experimental data.

The City of Lethbridge has also connected with Lethbridge County to explore potential options.

The Parks and Cemeteries department will continue to notify the public when chemical spraying occurs to ensure the community avoids these Implications areas. Residents are encouraged to avoid areas where foxtail is growing to help keep pets safe.

When foxtails or grasshoppers are identified, the public is encouraged to call 311. The public is not encouraged to use chemical products on grasshoppers as they can be very toxic in the urban environment. There are no pesticides that are approved for use in residential areas and the land in which the grasshopper population was moving into the residential areas is not managed by the City of Lethbridge.

The Civic Works SPC made a recommendation that Council accept the report as information.

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