If You Live Here, Prepare for an Onslaught of This Dreaded Pest
The spike in these insects could cause the prices of beef and certain crops to rise.
As if the challenges of enduring a drought weren't hard enough, experts say there will soon be an onslaught of one dreaded pest in a handful of U.S. states. Research shows that at least seven states across the midwest will see a rise in grasshoppers. Some areas are already experiencing a spike in these pests, with farmers reporting the insects' irreparable damage to their crops. The Associated Press referred to the impending occurrence as "a plague of voracious grasshoppers."
In response to the deluge of grasshoppers, which is expected to peak in about two months, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is embarking on what may be the largest grasshopper-killing campaign since the '80s. According to the AP, in an effort to mitigate the grasshoppers' damage to the economy, the USDA will be spraying with pesticides to kill grasshopper nymphs before they become full-grown adults. The first round of spraying will take place over about 3,000 square miles of Montana, which is chunk of land twice the size of Rhode Island.
Montana is already seeing a major increase in grasshoppers. Resident Frank Wiederrick told the AP, "They're everywhere." He added that "drought and grasshoppers go together and they are cleaning us out." Grasshoppers thrive in warm, dry weather, which makes a drought the perfect time for these bugs to wreak havoc. Experts told the AP that we could continue to see climbing numbers of grasshoppers year over year as climate change alters rainfall patterns. Per the news outlet, federal officials said if the rising population of grasshoppers isn't taken care of, it could lead to a spike in beef and other crop prices.
In about two months, grasshopper nymphs will grow to reach full-size (about two to three inches) and become so prevalent that they will be able to eat more plant matter than cattle can, University of Dayton insect ecologist Chelse Prather, PhD, told the AP. Although she said the insects will begin to dissipate when food sources run out by then, they will have likely already laid their eggs for the following year, which will cause another large grasshopper population boom in 2022.
A 2021 grasshopper "hazard map" from the USDA predicts that in some areas of seven states, there will be at least 15 insects per square yard. Read on to see if your state will be affected.