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Rain Puts Damper On Expected Grasshopper Outbreak

Researchers are downgrading their predictions of a severe grasshopper invasion this summer.

They credit the recent cool, wet weather. That may be frustrating for Northwest residents who are anxious for summer. But itís good news for farmers. Inland Northwest Correspondent Doug Nadvornick reports.

In mid-May, Washington State University entomologist Richard Zack warned that the conditions were ripe for a devastating outbreak of grasshoppers.

He predicted the worst infestation in a generation.

Richard Zack: "And what that was based on was numbers of grasshoppers over the last five or six years have been increasing."

Zack says grasshoppers munched on a quarter of a million acres in the Northwest last year. He says the dry areas of southeastern Oregon, southern Idaho and central Washington got the worst of it.

But he says, this year, the rains have come at the perfect time, when baby grasshoppers are hatching.

Richard Zack: "The wet cold provides them with a lot of diseases, with a lot of fungus, et cetera, and that tends to knock numbers down. And that'll work with grasshoppers, with yellowjackets, with wasps."

Despite the weather, Zack says the Northwest is at the peak of a cycle where grasshopper populations are high. He expects their numbers to fall over the next few years.

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