Grasshoppers Threaten Southeastern Arizona Crops

One of Arizona's many grasshopper species. | Paula Stewart

An unusually high number of grasshoppers are causing damage to crops at properties in the southern part of Arizona, according to a recent report.

The Arizona Daily Star reported that the grasshoppers, which arrived at farms in Southeastern Arizona in September, have been munching on cantaloupes, corn, greens and other crops. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the population surge seems to be isolated to that area of the state.

A University of Arizona professor told the newspaper that the increase likely is a result of three consecutive years of well-spaced rainfall during the summer monsoon. That allowed plants to flourish and provided more food and habitat for the grasshoppers, he said.

Grasshoppers, as their name suggests, usually prefer to eat grass, but they'll eat whatever is available if all the grass is gone. Arizona has the greatest diversity of grasshopper species in North America, the UA professor told the Daily Star.

There's good news for farmers, though, the newspaper reported: More grasshoppers likely means more birds that prey on them. And that could mean fewer grasshoppers in the area at this time next year.

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