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5 things to know about grasshoppers

link Staff photo: Joshua Lucero

A boom in the grasshopper population caused by increased rainfall has the insects invading the city. Grasshopper’s natural predators, such as birds and lizards, haven’t been able to keep up.

STAFF WRITER[email protected]

Grasshoppers have invaded Clovis and they’re in search of food.

Local experts say recent rain and a lack of natural predators has led to a boom in the grasshopper population in Clovis and the surrounding area.

The grasshoppers have come into the streets and parks and can be found hopping and flying throughout the city.

Lee Ann Davis, a supervisor at Southwestern Pest Control, and Eastern New Mexico University biology professor Dr. Darren Pollock answered a few questions about the jumping insect.

• Grasshoppers will eat anything green. Seven to eight adult grasshoppers can eat the same amount of vegetation over a two month period as a cow, according to Davis. “Seven or more grasshoppers per square meter can cause extensive damage to crops.” said Davis.

• Climate and lack of predators has cause a population boom. Grasshopper populations are kept in check by natural predators like birds, frogs, and lizards, but the population has outpaced the predators as a result of rainfall said Pollock. Pollock expects the grasshoppers to die off after the first frost, but said the population boom this year will result in a boom in the spring next year. Pollock said, “The grasshoppers are benefiting from a combination of plant growth and climate.”

• An adult female grasshopper can lay about 3,000 eggs in its lifetime, depending on the species. Pollock said there are more than 60 different species of grasshopper in New Mexico, and each species has a different preference for laying their eggs. According to Pollock, the current wave of grasshoppers is due to eggs that hatched during spring and early summer rains. Davis said a second wave will come as the first wave’s eggs hatch in the coming weeks.

• Grasshoppers can “spit.” When a grasshopper feels threatened it will excrete a dark brown liquid from its mouth. The liquid is actually regurgitated vegetable matter from the insect’s last meal said Pollock. The grasshopper stores its food in its crop — an area in front of the grasshopper’s gizzard and stomach — before digestion.

• Grasshoppers aren’t invincible. Grasshoppers can be difficult to kill or spray because of their quickness and mobility, but there are methods that can keep a garden free of the pests. Davis said there are spray pesticides, like Sevin dust, available to repel grasshoppers before they can get on plants. Davis said baits with pesticides in them are also effective for controlling grasshopper populations.