Get ready for the grasshopper and cricket swarms this summerS

The US Department of Agriculture warns that this summer could bring massive outbreaks of grasshoppers and Mormon crickets.

Grasshopper and cricket swarms can decimate farmlands, causing economic losses as well as food shortages. From the USDA website:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is expecting potentially heavy grasshopper outbreaks this year in a number of western States beginning in early June and lasting throughout the summer. These estimates are based on the unusually high population of adult grasshoppers in these States at the end of the summer of 2009, indicating that a large number of eggs may have been laid.

If the spring is relatively warm with little rainfall, conditions could be favorable for egg hatching and grasshopper survival. However, relatively cool and wet weather could limit the potential for outbreaks. The States that could see the heaviest outbreaks are Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. States with less severe outbreaks could include Idaho, Nevada, and Utah.

As biologist Alex Wild observed:

With plumes of crude oil destroying the Gulf of Mexico, tensions rising in the middle east, a severe hurricane season reving up in the Atlantic, and the earth opening up and just plain swallowing parts of Guatemala City whole, what else could possibly go wrong?

Now you know.

via USDA

Image of a Mormon cricket via Alex Wild.