The state sprayed pesticide Friday on this remote community to combat an epidemic of grasshoppers that have ravaged local gardens and crops for the past three weeks, officials said.

"I stayed out on the porch this morning and watched them spray," said Claudine Gillete, a resident who spearheaded the drive to get state assistance."We've already found grasshoppers out lying on their sides, kicking and dying. It's a great sight," she said.

The pesticide was applied by air and ground to the Gila County community about 80 miles northeast of Phoenix after Gov. Rose Mofford declared the town a disaster area, said Ivan Shields, director of the state Agriculture and Horticulture Commission.

"Malathion is what's being used. That's a household material used to control flies and mosquitoes. Health departments use it in urban and suburban areas for the same purpose," Shields said.

The spraying was criticized in advance by Joanne Williams. She tried unsuccessfully earlier this week to obtain a court order to prevent the spraying.