STEAMBOAT SPRINGS - People who live in Steamboat Springs are bracing for what could be one of the biggest grasshopper invasions in ten years.
Residents are forming community coalitions to tackle the earlier-than-normal arrival of the insects. Neighborhoods will start spraying before the grasshoppers spread.
Being a master gardener, Jackie Buratovich knows a thing or two about grasshoppers. Yet even she was surprised when she started to see the insects pop up around her Steamboat Springs home back in March.
"We have grasshoppers - lots of grasshoppers," she said.
Todd Hagenbuch with the Routt County Colorado State Extension Office says March is much earlier than normal.
"They were hatching and that shouldn't happen in April at 7,000 feet," Hagenbuch said.
Now, in late May, those grasshoppers are already spreading and gobbling up plants in their path.
Last year, residents say it was devastating.
"There were hundreds of thousands of them, a cloud," Hagenbuch said.
Grasshoppers can eat half their body weight each day. It would be like a 200-pound person eating 400 quarter-pound hamburgers every day.
Residents like Cathy Stokes says that kind of consumption has a big impact on the Steamboat Springs area.
"There were so many of them that they stripped the ground down to brown. The fields had sticks in them," Stokes said.
Residents planning to spray need to do it quickly. Some of the grasshoppers are already getting too big for the spray to be effective.
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