Photos and videos posted on social media show thousands of pallid-winged grasshoppers buzzing through the air in a flurry of wings and crunchy little bug bodies on the Vegas Strip. The grasshoppers are spoiling vacations, frightening locals and even disrupting weather radar in the region.
They’re also creating a very biblical scene outside the Luxor Hotel and Casino, where they’ve been drawn to the pyramid-shaped structure’s brilliant Sky Beam each night. Some have compared the scene to the plague of locusts that descended on Egypt in the Book of Exodus.
Experts say Vegas is particularly attractive to the insects because they are attracted to ultra-violet light — and few cities light up like Sin City after dark.
Some businesses on the Strip, including the Best Western Plus Casino Royale, have turned off their lights at night to avoid attracting the swarm, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
The Las Vegas branch of the National Weather Service (NWS) says it’s seeing an unusually high number of radar echoes from “biological targets” in the area.
“This typically includes birds, bats and bugs, and most likely in our case … grasshoppers,” the NWS tweeted on Friday.
The swarm prompted the NWS to issue a bizarre wind warning on Saturday.
“Watch for areas of blowing dust and grasshoppers which may limit visibility,” it tweeted.
The grasshoppers are migrating through the Las Vegas Valley due to a wetter-than-normal winter, according to Jeff Knight, a state entomologist with the Nevada Department of Agriculture. Such incidents occur every few years and are no cause for concern, Knight said at a news conference on Thursday.
“They don’t bite,” Knight said. “They don’t sting.”
Grasshopper expert Jeff Lockwood also called for calm in an interview with the New York Times. He blamed “the Book of Exodus” for much of the panic around the incident.
“I think that kind of planted a seed in Western culture and Western mindset of these outbreaks sort of being dark and dangerous,” said Lockwood, who is a professor of natural science and humanities at the University of Wyoming.
Experts say the swarms could plague Las Vegas for weeks.
—With files from ReutersFollow @JoshKElliott
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