Millions of grasshoppers have descended on Las Vegas, causing alarming images and videos to spread on social media and prompting some tourists to panic.
“It was crazy,” one tourist, Diana Rodriquez, told the TV station KLAS. “We didn’t even want to walk through there. Everybody was going crazy. We were wondering, like, what’s going on.”
Fortunately, the Nevada state entomologist Jeff Knight was on hand to explain. He told reporters the migration of adult pallid-winged grasshoppers traveling north to central Nevada could be attributed to wet weather several months ago.
The swarms were unusual but not unprecedented and posed no danger to humans, Knight said, adding that the insects did not carry disease, did not bite and probably would not damage any property before they disappear in several weeks’ time.
The grasshoppers are usually attracted to ultraviolet light sources, Knight said. The garish Las Vegas Strip and the city’s many giant casinos have plenty of those.
Knight recalled several similar migrations in his more than 30 years at the state department of agriculture, including one about six or seven years ago.
Nancy Ryan, a Vegas comedian whose husband took a particularly striking video of the insects, told the New York Times she thought “most locals are taking it in [their] stride because this occurs every few years. Since there’s more than usual, I think the dramatic videos are causing a bit of hysteria.”
This year, the Las Vegas area recorded more rain in six months than the annual average of just under 4.2in per year.