LAS VEGAS — Grasshoppers have invaded the Las Vegas Strip.
The little flying bugs are suddenly everywhere around the city. But where did they come from?
Nevada's state entomologist held an impromptu press conference on Thursday to set the record straight.
"The grasshopper that just came in the last couple days to Las Vegas is the pallid-winged grasshopper," said Jeff Knight, the state entomologist with the Nevada Department of Agriculture.
Knight says the grasshoppers are not new. He remembers swarms flying this far north several times since the 1960s.
"The ones that started down probably in Laughlin or southern Nevada, or even Arizona, are the ones that are moving up to central Nevada. So a couple hundred miles," Knight said.
When these desert dwellers migrate north, Knight says it's usually after a wetter-than-average winter or spring.
"When we have a wet winter or spring, these things build up. A lot of times, when populations get too big, it triggers the insects to move to find new areas," Knight said.
Knight says the grasshoppers are attracted to ultraviolet lights, making valley gas stations and parking lots popular spots for swarms, which can be bad for business.
"When you have thousands of insects like that, it does create that panic in somebody's mind," Knight said.
But Knight says there's no need to fear these grasshoppers because they're harmless to humans.
"They don't carry any diseases. They don't bite. They're not even one of the species that we consider a problem," Knight said.
He admits this is one of the worst years for grasshoppers that he has ever seen in southern Nevada, but does not expect them to be in Las Vegas longer than a couple more weeks.
Trent English, a pest control technician with Truly Nolen in Las Vegas, treated one gas station that was overrun with grasshoppers. At one point, he said so many grasshoppers were swarming that customers didn't want to come out of their cars.
"There were thousands that were congregating all over that general area. Not just that area, but at that point in time, customers were afraid to even come in through the doors or get out of their cars. It created a little bit of a panic epidemic because people didn't know what they were," English said.
English says while grasshoppers are not the most harmful pests, enough of them can do some damage.
"They are plant feeders so they are notoriously known for wiping out crops. They can destroy gardens, plants, vegetation," he said.
He adds that grasshoppers are ground-dwelling insects but can jump and fly great lengths. He says barrier is the best option to protect plants.
"The best course of action would be to find some type of cage or netting that will actually secure that area so they can't get in, invade, and destroy those things you've been growing," English said.
This story was originally published by Ross DiMattei on KTNV in Las Vegas.