Spring rains likely cause of Amarillo grasshopper scourge

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Saturday, July 18, 2015
In this Thursday, July 19, 2012, file photo, a grasshopper sits on a dried up leaf on a stalk of corn in a field.
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File

AMARILLO, TX -- Heavy spring rains are being blamed for a summer invasion of grasshoppers around Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle.

"There are just thousands," Panhandle Greenhouses Manager James Cathey told the Amarillo Globe-News. "Yeah, everybody has grasshoppers."

The grasshoppers likely laid their eggs after May, when Amarillo had more rain than usual, according to Ed Bynum, a Texas A&M Extension Service entomologist.

"The rain also brought a lot of vegetation they could feed on, so they had good food for the grasshoppers and a lot hatch out, and so that's probably why we have a lot of them," Bynum said.

Horticulturist Greg Lusk from the Amarillo Botanical Gardens said the pests prefer to munch on ornamental grasses, herbs and vegetables.

"They're somewhat selective until they destroy that plant, and then they eat everything they can find," he said.

Lusk said as soon as his plants began showing leaf damage from the clouds of grasshoppers, he started treating the foliage with insecticide.

"You can put up with a certain amount of insect damage, but when it starts making plants look poor, you really need to act, because they don't have any self-defense," he said. "So, you need to help them out."

The Panhandle area is no stranger to pest plagues. In 2012, a winter with little snow and relatively warm temperatures brought a spring infestation of swarming moths.

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