Grasshoppers are invading Las Vegas. How long will they stay? | TribLIVE.com
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Grasshoppers are invading Las Vegas. How long will they stay?

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A pallid-winged grasshopper on a sidewalk in Henderson, Nev. A migration of mild-mannered grasshoppers have been sweeping through the Las Vegas area since late July. (Steve Marcus/Associated Press)

If you’re planning to visit Las Vegas anytime soon, don’t fear the grasshoppers. Specifically, pallid-winged grasshoppers that have descended in such numbers that their swarms show up on weather radar screens. They’re also turning up as pizza toppings, but more on that later.

Don’t worry, the grasshoppers don’t pose a threat to humans. Visitors and locals can’t help but see them as they stroll the Strip. You need look no farther than the Luxor’s beam and other lights to see hundreds of thousands spinning in the night air.

How long will the swarms last? Experts say about another week or so.

“Populations will start dropping off either from them dying of a lack of food or moving on and out of the city,” Jeff Knight, an entomologist with the Nevada Department of Agriculture, said in a video this week.

Knight also said he doesn’t expect that grasshoppers’ predators — scorpions and spiders — will turn up in similarly large numbers. The bug invasion started in late July because of Vegas’ wetter than usual winter and mild spring this year.

Lately, the city has had other face-offs with nature, such as thunderstorms Wednesday that brought as much as 2 feet of rushing water to the city, and temperatures that soared as high as 112 degrees in July.

But back to the bugs.

The grasshoppers are described as mild-mannered. They’re about an inch and a half long, with large back legs and bodies that can be gray to yellow-brown. The insects live in wide open spaces from British Columbia, Canada, to Chiapas, Mexico, and as far east as Montana, Kansas and eastern Texas.

And yes, Evel Pie pizza joint at 508 Fremont St. in downtown started making a Canyon Hopper pizza topped with grasshoppers (not the invading ones but culinary-quality bugs from Mexico). The restaurant’s seasonal pie won national media attention.

But this recent invasion pales compared with the epic event on Sept. 27, 1991, when Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings won a preseason game against the New York Rangers at Caesars Palace.

“But that isn’t what made that game memorable,” Ron Kantowski writes in a July 29 story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It was the first NHL game played outdoors. And late in the third period, it was delayed by a horde of grasshoppers.”

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