Up to 50 million grasshoppers invade rural Sacramento County

Up to 50 million grasshoppers invade rural Sacramento County
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POSTED: Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 11:00pm

UPDATED: Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 11:04pm

 Folks in Herald, Calif. say their new neighbors moved-in about 12 days ago.

They brought their appetites, and their friends. Scientists haven't done a head count yet, or even a thorax count for that matter, but local experts have a pretty good estimation of how many grasshoppers there are.

"Umm, 50 million," said 7-year-old Moe Gunter.

And with that many bugs jumping all over the place and eating their own body weight every couple days or so, vegetation is getting worked-over.

"The roses on this side are about half way gone," said Denae Gunter, pointing-out plants in front of her home. "The hedges here are slowly going…"

They are guzzling the greenery and munching the mulch. And then there's the creepy factor.

"The winged ones, they kind of freak my out," said 10-year-old Taiya.

And it's worse when the kids have to cross the yard to do chores.

"they jump on you and you're like, 'what's on me!' and then you shake your legs," says 8-year-old Hailena.

But if residents and farmers in Herald are feed up with the rapacious rascals, University of Davis bug experts are kind of excited.

We spoke to entomologist Steve Heydon, who told us grasshopper swarms have become a rare occurrence.

The working theory: This winter was dry and warm, so there's less vegetation around for the bugs to eat. But the winter before saw a lot more precipitation than usual, so with plenty of food there were a lot of extra little bugs born.

Heydon said the grasshoppers don't usual swarm like they are in Herald, but when food gets scarce, their behavior patterns change.

People in rural Sacramento County can look forward to seeing their long legged "friends" around for as long as another month.

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