Swarms of Grasshoppers Invade Las Vegas—And There Are so Many They Showed up on Weather Radar

Las Vegas has been invaded by swarms of grasshoppers—and there are so many of the insects that they showed up on weather radar.

On Saturday, meteorologists noticed that there were two areas of what looked like torrential rain on the radar map for Las Vegas. But closer inspection revealed that one of these areas represented something biological in origin, Reuters reported.

"Some of you have been asking about the widespread radar returns the past few nights in Las Vegas," the National Weather Service tweeted. "Radar analysis suggests most of these echoes are biological targets. This typically includes birds, bats, and bugs, and most likely in our case... grasshoppers."

The swarms that have descended over the city over the past week are not unprecedented—they tend to occur every few years. Experts say that the insects likely migrated to the area due to abnormally wet conditions. So far in 2019, Las Vegas has received nearly twice as much rain as it normally gets—a trend that also applies to the rest of Nevada—and has already exceeded its annual average rainfall (around 4 inches.)

"It appears through history that when we have a wet winter or spring, these things build up often down below Laughlin and even into Arizona," Jeff Knight, state entomologist from the Nevada Department of Agriculture, told Q13 Fox News. "We'll have flights [of grasshoppers] about this time of the year, migrations, and they'll move northward."

"We have records clear from the 1060s of it happening, and I have seen it at least four or five times in my 30-plus years," he said. "There are some special weather conditions that trigger the migration."

Despite the size of the swarm, experts say that there is nothing to fear as the insects are not dangerous.

"We can probably blame the Book of Exodus," Jeff Lockwood, a professor of natural sciences at the University of Wyoming told The New York Times. "I think that kind of planted a seed in Western culture and Western mindset of these outbreaks sort of being dark and dangerous."

Nevertheless, the swarm caused a frenzy on social media with one local resident, Caitlin Sparks, posting a picture of the grasshoppers with the description: "This is the wildest [thing] in nature I've ever seen."

The insects are attracted to ultraviolet light and as a result, they have congregated around the many brightly lit buildings on the city's famous Strip, forcing some to shut off their lighting.

"What we would consider the white lights are the ones we would consider more attractive to them," Knight told the Times.

Experts predict that the grasshoppers could remain in Las Vegas for some weeks to come before migrating again to find food.

grasshoppers, Las Vegas
Grasshoppers swarm a light a few blocks off the Strip on July 26, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. BRIDGET BENNETT/AFP/Getty Images
Swarms of Grasshoppers Invade Las Vegas—And There Are so Many They Showed up on Weather Radar | U.S.