Friday, June 15, 2012

Nothing that a little DDT wouldn't cure

A massive swarm of grasshoppers has invaded a rural town in Sacramento County, eating foliage, hopping around and creating a nuisance.
Folks in Herald, about 30 miles southeast of Sacramento, say their new neighbors moved in at the beginning of June.
They brought their appetites and their friends. Scientists haven't done a head count yet, but locals have a pretty good estimate.
"Umm, 50 million," said 7-year-old Moe Gunter.
And with that many bugs jumping all over the place and eating their own body weight every couple days or so, vegetation is getting worked over.
"The roses on this side are about half-way gone," said Denae Gunter, pointing out plants in front of her home. "The hedges here are slowly going…"
But if residents and farmers in Herald are fed up with them, UC Davis bug experts are kind of excited.
Entomologist Steve Heydon said these types of swarms are rare.
The working theory: This winter was dry and warm, so there's less vegetation around for the bugs to eat. But the winter before saw a lot more precipitation than usual, so with plenty of food there were a lot of extra little bugs born.
People in rural Sacramento County can look forward to seeing their "friends" around for as long as another month.


The same thing happened in Mariposa County just southeast of here a couple years ago. In the settlement of Hornitos they were eating the paint of the buildings.
 I was hunting coyotes down there one morning and had to quit shortly after dawn because the hoppers were so thick I couldn't see clearly enough to shoot. Once I got back to the truck I had to strip down to pants only and still ended up with a shitload of the little bastards in the cab. Motherfuckers drove me crazy for a week - I'd be driving down the road doing 60 and all of a sudden a grasshopper would land on my face.