Las Vegas Valley has been witnessing an invasion of grasshoppers this season following an unusually wet winter and spring. According to the National Weather Service, the valley recorded
“4.63 inches of rain this year… The annual average is 4.19 inches, and this year nearly 4 inches had fallen before the end of May.”
The grasshoppers are migrating as far north as central Nevada from Laughlin and Northern Arizona. Although harmless, grasshoppers can measure up to 1.5 inches with wings carrying them up to 10 feet high and 30 feet away. Interestingly enough the metropolis city of Las Vegas is out of the grasshoppers’ usual migration route as they are common desert species and will likely be on their way in the coming weeks.
Grasshoppers in the city
If you take a walk down the Las Vegas strip you will observe hordes of grasshoppers covering the city, often gathering around lights and green spaces. People in the Las Vegas strip have been capturing photos and videos for the massive cloud of swarming grasshoppers. Outside the Luxor Hotel and Casino, the insects are attracted to the pyramid’s sky beam each night. Some have even compared the scene to the biblical depiction of the plague of locusts that attacked Egypt in the Book of Exodus. The grasshoppers are most likely attracted by the ultra-violet lights of Sin City.
The grasshoppers are most active in the valley during the night according to the weather service’s radar which measures biological targets such as birds, bats, and bugs. The radar detected increased activity around Nelson Peak, located southwest of the valley. Metrologist, Alex Boothe, believes that “we can detect the difference between biological and non-biological targets,” he said, adding that while meteorologists can’t be certain grasshoppers are causing the spike, “it’s a pretty safe assumption.”
Get to know the new neighbours
The grasshoppers roaming the city belong to the Acrididae family, which originates in the area between Argentina and British Columbia of Canada. Mostly centred around desert ecosystems, their natural habitat. It is not the first time a city faces this kind of grasshoppers’ invasion, as studies reveal that
“between 1952 to 1980 there were six outbreaks in Arizona. One of which lasted two years long. These outbreaks are recorded in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and California.”
Given that the grasshoppers will be sticking around for a while, perhaps it’s wise to get more acquainted with the insect. The ancient species have been around for more than 300 million years. They have their ears located in their stomachs, which is beneath their wings.
Grasshoppers have two large eyes on the side of their head as well as three smaller, two at the base of each antenna and one in between them. With thousands of lenses on their eyes, grasshoppers have 360 visibility. Rest assured though that grasshoppers are harmless as they don’t bite, or sting. The best thing to do is to put up with the swarms and wait until they go away!