LETHBRIDGE — The recent hot and dry conditions blanketing southern Alberta have paved the way for the biggest surge in grasshoppers in recent memory.
For one neighbourhood in west Lethbridge, the insects have been popping up in droves over the past two weeks, and things are only getting worse.
“If we don’t laugh about it, I feel like we’re all just going to cry about it,” said Paige Thornborough, a Copperwood resident who has lived in the area for roughly five years.
“It’s like a horror movie. It’s horrible. When you go on the sidewalk on this side of the street even, there are swarms of them.”
Normally, Paige and her husband Dylan would be spending much of their summer in their backyard playing with their two young daughters. But not this year.
“It’s hurting the kids the most not being able to play in our yard. Just with COVID and not being able to see other kids much for so long, it’s pretty frustrating for them now that they can’t even play in their our back yard,” said Dylan Thornborough.
For the Thornboroughs, the army of grasshoppers that’s taken over their lawn is unexpected and beyond annoying.
“We used to spend all day every day out in the back barbecuing, eating outside, the kids had a pool, a Slip ‘n Slide and we’re not able to utilize any of the space anymore. We just can’t stand being out here.”
The problem is much more widespread than just one family. An entire block is seeing waves of grasshoppers hop from house to house.
The community is built on the edge of a dryland farm that has been devastated by this year’s scorching conditions.
Seeing as there will be little to no crop yield on that farm this year, it doesn’t make much financial sense to spray insecticides to keep the grasshoppers at bay which means, the insects are running rampant.
“It started off as only like three on the trampoline and then they multiplied so quickly,” said Hudson Turchyn, a 10 year-old who’s lived on the block for more than five years.
“We just planted two plots of garden in our back yard and like, all the leaves are gone. They just ate it all. It’s crazy.”
Some of the kids in the neighbourhood were having a fun time trying to catch the grasshoppers before things were kicked into high gear, but not anymore.
“As soon as you walk outside it’s just like grasshopper town,” said 12 year old Olivia Burrows.
“I have been a little bit spooked out. It’s pretty gross.”
Handfuls of residents have taken it upon themselves to spray their property with pesticides and other chemicals, but those solutions have only lasted for a short period of time before the grasshoppers come bouncing back in droves.
“It’s starting to feel a little bit hopeless in terms of solutions or I guess, ways that we can manage the problem. It’s starting to feel very much overwhelming,” said Paige Thornborough.
This isn’t the first time the region’s grasshopper population has surged and according to some farmers with experience dealing with the pesky bugs, this year’s dry conditions could mean that southern Albertans will be dealing with swarms of grasshoppers for the next couple years.
The City of Lethbridge says they’re aware of the situation, and their trying to work on a solution, but local pest control companies say unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to clean up the neighbourhood.
At this point, the only hope is for the weather to take a turn and cool down dramatically or rain for a few straight days.