by Victor Lopez
MIDLAND--Thanks to July rains in the Basin, plants and grass are growing thick and green. But are the growing numbers of grasshoppers something to be worried about?
Experts NewsWest 9 spoke to say, this isn't a plague of biblical proportions, but there's still cause for concern. The pesky little pests have been known to cause some real damage in the past.
According to Burr Williams, Executive Director of the Sibley Nature Center in Midland, "Years ago, we used to have grasshopper plagues of a species that would literally eat everything. In fact, they would even eat the clothes off the drying line."
Williams says, thanks to the rainfall this year, the little buggers could be "hopping" all over, "Any time there is a wet year, there's going to be an increase in grasshoppers. As things dry out, then they start moving around. Right now, they're probably looking for green stuff, so they're coming closer to town."
The Sibley Center has identified over 90 species of grasshoppers in the area. The increase in population is something that happens every year. Every species has a particular taste from grass to broad leaf plants.
"In a real bad year, it's going to be pretty remarkable how much damage they can do to home landscapes. This year, I'm not really predicting such a thing, but it's always worth keeping an eye out," Williams explained.
Paul Benson owns Alpha Omega Landscaping. He knows something about grasshoppers too.
"They are part of the ecosystem and they really do a good job of getting rid of weeds and putting nutrients back into the soil," Benson said.
So far, neither he nor his customers have seen any unusually large numbers of grasshoppers. But Benson says he knows someone that has, "My wife mentioned, the other night, she tried to go to a local club and the parking lot was full of them. There wasn't any vegetation around and they happened to be everywhere."
Both Benson and Williams agree, unless you notice a major amount of grasshoppers in your yard, you really have nothing to worry about. You can choose to call an exterminator get rid of them yourself, organically.
"By organically, I mean something that is not a pesticide," Benson explained.
"Unfortunately, if you spray them, you're going to contaminate the food for birds, lizards, horny toads, everything else that might eat a grasshopper. So, it's a tough call," Williams added.
After watching the video of grasshoppers outside of the NewsWest 9 studios, Williams called it a low level invasion. He says if it had been high level, they would have been covering the entire wall, about 2 inches apart.