Attack of the grasshoppers in Texas
"A scourge of grasshoppers is chomping through gardens, orchards, pastures and urban landscapes across a wide swath of Texas this summer.
A horde of hoppers denuded 180 acres of Bermuda and native grasses on pastureland in Gainesville, where Bobby Sicking runs 100 cows, forcing him to move the stock and start feeding them hay.
"You wouldn't believe it. They stripped every leaf off a native mulberry tree. I have a peach tree I sprayed twice and they ate the fruit down to the stones," he said. "There are two nearby corn patches and there are rows and rows with no leaves on them, and now they are burrowing into the ears."
The severe grasshopper outbreak is yet another destructive impact of last year's Texas drought. Consecutive years of hot, dry summers, warm autumns and dry springs favor grasshopper survival and reproduction, experts say.
“They are destroying landscapes and pastures. We’ve had people who walk outside their house and their yards are gone in a day. People have come home from vacation and all their plants were gone. We’ve got that kind of infestation,” he said.
Poolville farmer Ben Walker says the grasshoppers will “get on everything. They’ll eat black-eyed peas, tomatoes and peaches. They’ll strip sweet potatoes down to the ground. They’re not prejudiced; they’ll tear into everything.”
The grasshoppers are showing up in pockets across the Dallas-Fort Worth region, particularly around the fringes of developed areas, said entomologist Don Shultz of HomeTeam Pest Defense.
“They’ve kind of exploded. When you walk across a yard and see hundreds, that’s a lot of grasshoppers,” he said.
“It’s not 100 percent coverage, but it’s like an epidemic. Anyone that lives in the country that tries to have a landscape is having a problem,” Becker said, “It started in February, and there have been progressively more hatches. "
"They just keep multiplying, grasshopper plague seems to be growing to biblical proportions."
Spreading drought stalks U.S. Midwest
"A severe drought is spreading in the Midwest this summer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture saying 1,016 counties in 26 states are natural disaster areas.
Drought conditions are being experienced in about 61 percent of the contiguous United States, the highest percentage in the 12-year record of the U.S. Drought Monitor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
"Widespread deterioration and expansion of dryness and drought" in the Midwest, northwestern Ohio Valley and southern Great Plains is the result of unusually high temperatures and a lack of any significant rainfall, the drought monitor reported.
The National Climatic Data Center said the past 12 months have been the warmest the United States has experienced since record-keeping began in 1895."
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