NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) — While the record drought that's scorched much of the Midwest seems to produce nothing but bad news for farmers and homeowners, one entomologist says the drought has produced some good news for parts of Nebraska: fewer grasshoppers.
The drought has kept grasshopper numbers low in parts of central Nebraska, entomologist Dave Boxler told the North Platte Telegraph (http://bit.ly/R0XnMN).
Boxler said Lincoln County, where he's based, saw large numbers of grasshoppers last year.
"Based on that, we were anticipating real problems this summer. But, they didn't appear," he said.
Above-average temperatures in March caused grasshopper eggs to hatch early, and cold spells in April killed many of them. Another batch of grasshoppers that hatched in May have been adversely affected by the drought, Boxler said.
Grasshoppers normally like hot, dry weather, he said, but record-setting high temperatures in July "might have been too extreme for their survivorship."
Boxler said the same conditions have also diminished cricket populations.
A rangeland survey showed Lincoln County had 10.5 grasshoppers per square yard as of Aug. 3. That compared with 25 per square yard during the same time period last year.
Boxler said the drop could be a good indication of what to expect next summer.
"It appears that with less grasshoppers to lay eggs this year, we should have less of a problem next year," he said. "But, if Mother Nature throws us a curve ball — you never know what could happen."
Nebraska's panhandle didn't fare as well, Boxler said, where grasshopper numbers remain high.
"People in those areas didn't benefit from the April weather," he explained.
Information from: The North Platte Telegraph, http://www.nptelegraph.com