Destination: Montana. Mission: Grow Our Own Grasshoppers.

February 12, 2015 by Drader

EPI No_Bugs-CMYK-locust

In just a few days, EcoPesticides Chief Technology Officer Adam Forshaw and I will be traveling to the far reaches of Montana on board an eight-seat Cessna. Our mission is to meet with one of the world’s foremost authorities on the microbial control of insect pests and return to New Mexico with additional insights on our technology and the beginnings of a colony of rangeland grasshoppers.

Katherine Rodgers, Biological Technologist
Katherine Rodgers, Biological Technologist

As a scientist and as a member of the EcoPesticides team developing biologic-based pesticides that target specific crop-destroying insects like grasshoppers and locusts, this is about as exciting as it gets.

Our visit will center around a leading scientist at the USDA Agriculture Test Lab in Sydney, Montana. In addition to tracking swarm activity across the nation, his grasshopper work includes evaluating new technologies and new insect pathogenic fungi for the microbial control of grasshoppers. Our company has a long-time relationships with key scientists at the USDA and we are in the process of establishing a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA).

Sample of encapsulated biopesticide
Sample of encapsulated biopesticide spores

One of main activities while in Montana is learning how to raise grasshoppers for use in lab trials back in New Mexico. Raising grasshoppers is harder than you’d think; we will be walking through incubation, rearing, and housing the insects following proven protocols. Because the end game is determining optimal specifications of our biopesticide and encapsulation technologies, we’ll also review inoculation techniques and dosages. Imagine giving a wriggling insect an injection. That’s what we’ll be doing. Over and over.

Adam and I plan on being quick studies; I hate being away from the EcoPesticides lab. The ability to raise our own grasshoppers from eggs to mature adults will ramp up our testing, moving us that much further on down the commercialization pathway.

I just wish it didn’t involve an eight-seat plane to get there.





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