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Western drought brings another woe: voracious grasshoppers

This undated photo provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health...
This undated photo provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service shows a male migratory grasshopper. Besides feeding on grasslands, large grasshopper populations can also devastate cultivated crops such as alfalfa, wheat, barley, and corn. (U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service via AP)(AP)
Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 8:52 AM MDT
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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A drought blanketing the U.S. West is drying up waterways, sparking wildfires and leaving farmers scrambling for water.

Next up: voracious grasshoppers.

U.S. agriculture officials are launching what could become their largest campaign since the 1980s to kill grasshoppers in western states. Ranchers fear the insects will strip bare the public and private rangeland where cattle graze.

In central Montana, more than 50 miles from the nearest town, rancher Frank Wiederrick says the grasshoppers “are cleaning us out” and fears he’ll have to sell his cows as the infestation worsens.

Scientists say such outbreaks could become more common as climate change shifts rainfall patterns.

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