A swarm of grasshoppers invading Tooele, Utah was so large it registered on weather radar systems.
The plague of grasshoppers that moved into northwestern Utah late last month it was picked up by the National Weather Service.
The plague-like surge was captured around 6 pm on June 21 heading northeast toward the Great Salt Lake before hitting Tooele, Utah leaving farmers with destroyed crops.
‘Every bit of alfalfa that’s in my fields is gone,’ rancher Michael Dow told KSLTV. ‘I planted a pasture and all the seedlings were about 3/4 of an inch tall Sunday morning, and on Sunday evening, they were gone, it was bare dirt’ he explained.
There have been other reports of insects terrorizing the region for the last few weeks.
A swarm of grasshoppers invading Tooele, Utah was so large it registered by the National Weather Service
The plague-like surge hit Tooele, Utah, leaving many farmers with destroyed crops
Swarms of grasshoppers can destroy crops in a short amount of time, quickly eating their way through fields of wheat, spinach, corn and other plants.
The insects also bite, but this is usually more irritating than serious as the bites tend to cause mild discomfort. Many humans don’t even realize they have been by a grasshopper.
Scientists were able to recognize the radar movement in Utah as grasshoppers because the group was very ‘non-uniform,’ and weather events like rain and snow tend to be more consistent in shape, meteorologist Alex DeSmet told the Salt Lake Tribune.
‘This is not a common thing,’ State entomologist Kris Watson, who manages Utah’s insect and pest program at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, said.
‘Grasshoppers themselves are common, but for them to show up on a radar detection — to my understanding, it’s not very common.’
The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food provides a grasshopper and Mormon cricket suppression program for producers who need help combating pests, he added.
Farmers are able to apply for free pesticide to spray the grasshoppers, through a government cost-sharing program, but its utility has been questioned by farmers.
The grasshoppers moving into northwestern Utah late last month was picked up by weather radar
Some farmers in Box Elder County, Utah, are already battling heat and drought and are concerned about the influx of the pests.
‘We first noticed them like the end of May, you know?’ Royce Larsen told Desert News.
‘They were just tiny, started hatching. Between the hoppers and the drought, it’s bad,’ Larsen said.
Larsen said the pesticide spray for the grasshoppers provided by the Utah Department of Agriculture may not actually help farmers save any crops at this point in the season, and they still have to pay for the application.
Farmers may have to hold out for better luck next year and hope a cold winter will kill off the eggs these grasshoppers leave behind, he explained.
Nevada also endured a recent insect plague when millions of Mormon crickets descended on six counties across the state last month.
The flightless insects, named because they destroyed the fields of Mormon settlers in Utah in the mid-19th century, were so numerous they blanketed roads, buildings and homes.
A local hospital had to use brooms and leaf blowers to help patients make their way inside, a spokesperson for the Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital, told KSL.
Mormon crickets, which closely resemble grasshoppers, lay eggs in the summer, which lie dormant in the winter and then hatch in the spring, unleashing nightmares for towns like Elko, Nevada.
Once such a swarm has hatched the insects remain at their peak for four to six years before the natural cycle of predators brings their numbers back under control.
Mormon crickets have plagued farmers in the American west for more than a century and have periodically devastated some of the state’s most profitable crops, corn, oats, wheat, rye and barley, ever since.