Hordes of grasshoppers descend on and decimate Utah crops

Jun 30, 2023, 6:52 PM | Updated: Jul 8, 2023, 6:37 pm

TOOELE, Utah — Like monsters right out of your nightmares, hundreds of thousands of grasshoppers have taken over in parts of Tooele County.

Farms are dealing with the destructive menace.

“Every bit of alfalfa that’s in my fields is gone,” rancher Michael Dow said. “I planted a pasture and all the seedlings were about 3/4 of an inch tall Sunday morning, and on Sunday evening, they were gone, it was bare dirt.”

Dow said there are approximately 70 grasshoppers per square yard. They started showing up a couple of weeks ago but the infestation has just become worse.

“They’ll take out a crop in a matter of days and you can poison them with a spray, you can create a buffer zone with poison, it’s not a threat to pets or livestock. But you have to catch them early.”

Utah’s Department of Agriculture did give him poison for the grasshoppers.

“But we just didn’t catch them in time, and they came on really quick,” he said. “We’re talking thousands of dollars in seed, in water, in time; not to mention, the lost feed.”

When Dow kicks up dirt, he is also kicking up insects.

“As we’re driving through them with the side-by-side and they’re jumping all over you, they land on your face. It’s not a good feeling,” he said. “They’ll stick to your clothes and get in your pockets, they’re just kind of nasty little creatures.”

In a record water year, good for crops, Dow has faced the grasshopper infestation.

“We’re just out here trying to make a living,” he said.

Correction: On July 8, the National Weather Service of Utah corrected themselves about the grasshoppers showing up on their weather radars. They now believe it was chaff from the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. This story has taken out any mentions of the grasshoppers arriving on weather radar.  

Swarm of grasshoppers on NWS radar was actually reflective material from Nevada air force base, NWS says

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Hordes of grasshoppers descend on and decimate Utah crops