Giant swarm of locusts flying into Utah is so big it’s being picked up by weather RADAR
A swarm of locusts that invaded Tooele, Utah was so large it was recorded on weather radar systems.
The locust plague that moved into northwestern Utah late last month was picked up by the National Weather Service.
The plague-like wave was recorded around 6 p.m. on June 21 heading northeast toward the Great Salt Lake before hitting Tooele, Utah, leaving farmers with destroyed crops.
“Every bit of alfalfa on my fields is gone,” says farmer Michael Dow told KSLTV. “I planted a pasture and all the seedlings were about 3/4 inch long by Sunday morning, and by Sunday night they were gone, it was bare dirt,” he explained.
There have been other reports of insects terrorizing the region in recent weeks.
A swarm of locusts that invaded Tooele, Utah was so large it was recorded by the National Weather Service
The plague-like wave hit Tooele, Utah, leaving many farmers with destroyed crops
Swarms of locusts can destroy crops in a short period of time, quickly making their way through fields of wheat, spinach, corn and other plants.
The bugs also bite, but this is usually more irritating than serious, as the bites tend to cause mild discomfort. Many people don’t even realize they’ve been through a locust.
Scientists were able to recognize the radar movement in Utah as locusts because the group was very “non-uniform,” and weather conditions such as rain and snow tend to be more consistent in shape, meteorologist Alex DeSmet told the Salt Lake Tribune.
“This is not common,” said state entomologist Kris Watson, who manages Utah’s insect and pest control program at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.
“Locusts themselves are common, but for them to show up on a radar detect – in my opinion, that’s not very common.”
The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food offers a locust and Mormon cricket suppression program for producers who need help controlling pests, he added.
Farmers can request free pesticides to spray the locusts through a government cost-sharing program, but their usefulness is questioned by farmers.
The locusts that moved into northwestern Utah late last month were picked up by weather radar
Already battling heat and drought, some farmers in Box Elder County, Utah, are concerned about the influx of pests.
“We first noticed them at the end of May, you know?” Royce Larsen told Desert News.
“They were just very small, starting to hatch. Between the hoppers and the drought, things are bad,” Larsen said.
Larsen said the pesticide spray for the locusts provided by the Utah Department of Agriculture may not really help farmers save crops at this point in the season, and they still have to pay for the application.
Farmers may have to wait for better luck next year and hope that a cold winter will kill the eggs these locusts leave behind, he explained.
Nevada also endured a recent insect plague when millions of Mormon crickets descended on six counties across the state last month.
The flying insects, so named because they devastated the fields of Mormon settlers in Utah in the mid-1800s, were so numerous that they covered roads, buildings, and homes.
A local hospital had to use brooms and leaf blowers to move patients inside, a Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital spokesperson told KSL.
Mormon crickets, which closely resemble locusts, lay eggs in the summer, which are dormant in the winter and hatch in the spring, creating nightmares for cities like Elko, Nevada.
Once such a swarm has hatched, the insects remain at their peak for four to six years before the natural cycle of predators brings their numbers back under control.
Mormon crickets have plagued farmers in the American West for more than a century and have since periodically devastated some of the state’s most profitable crops, corn, oats, wheat, rye and barley.