July 15, 2002
This negative image was taken at night and shows just a few of the thousands and thousands of grasshoppers that are invading north central Texas. These pesky insects have caused millions of dollars in damages to Texas croplands in just the past 2 years. A grasshopper's preferred foods include corn, alfalfa, cotton, and clover, but they'll eat just about anything, even watermelon, peaches and your favorite flowers. The only things they don't eat, are the things you wish they would.
According to Jon Green of the Texas Agricultural Extension for Parker County, female grasshoppers can lay an average of 200 eggs in one season, but if conditions are just right, 400 eggs are possible. Peak hatching occurs around mid-June, and the length of time from egg to adult is 40-60 days. When mature, grasshoppers can leap 20 times the length of their bodies. When held, the hoppers will spit a brown liquid - gluttons don't have manners.
On a positive note, if the rains that have also plagued the Lone Star State in recent weeks continues, it's thought that the grasshopper invasion will not pose as big a threat to crops. Cool, wet weather seems to slow nymphal development. However, in some areas of north central Texas, nearly everything has already been stripped by these voracious critters. Even when walking to the mail box, dozens of them fly in your face.