Story at a glance

  • Along with dry, hot weather, droughts invite a surplus of grasshoppers.
  • This spells trouble for farmers, as grasshoppers are voracious herbivores.
  • Experts say the current infestation is likely to peak within two to three months.

As severe drought ravages the American West, a Biblical symptom of the arid conditions has emerged: a fresh infestation of grasshoppers.

The population of these insects are reportedly sprawling across states like Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska and Arizona, among others. As herbivores, they feed on plants, and the influx in populations stands to wreak havoc on agricultural fields and products out west.

Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the sprawl of the grasshoppers that are coinciding with drought-like conditions in the same western states. Montana and Oregon appear to suffer from some of the densest quantities.

The Associated Press (AP) confirms that ranchers in the region have been noticing the excess grasshopper population, since the insects thrive in warm, dry weather.


MORE FROM CHANGING AMERICA

CALIFORNIA AREAS SO HOT AND DRY THAT THEY’RE ALREADY IN SUMMER FIRE SEASON CONDITIONS

WESTERN STATES ON VERGE OF WORST DROUGHT IN MODERN HISTORY

CALIFORNIA TO SPEND $500 MILLION TO FIGHT OFF WILDFIRES

WILDFIRE IN THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK TRIPLES IN SIZE, LESS THAN HALF CONTAINED


While mitigation efforts are underway, the widespread administration of insecticides stands to harm other local fauna in the West. Pollinators like bees — whose own population numbers are dwindling — are of particular concern.

“We’re talking about natural areas being sprayed, this is not cropland,” said Sharon Selvaggio, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist to AP. 

For farmers, however, the influx of grasshoppers stands to eat into their profits. A standard grasshopper infestation can result in the destruction of 20 percent of forage from any given range, costing about $900 million dollars.

As climate change stands to continue altering global temperatures, infestations such as this could be more common.


MORE FROM CHANGING AMERICA

COLORADO IS FIGHTING THE WORST WILDFIRES IN ITS HISTORY

CALIFORNIA POWER COMPANY SAYS A FAULTY WIRE MAY HAVE SPARKED SILVERADO FIRE

FAMILIES CLOG HIGHWAYS AS THEY FLEE RAGING COLORADO FIRE

COLORADO WILDFIRES ARE BREAKING RECORDS

Published on Jun 25, 2021