While no one is willing to say the sudden appearance of large numbers of grasshoppers in and around Albuquerque is sounding an alarm for New Mexico agriculture, many admit it could be cause for concern.

Bernalillo County Cooperative Extension Service officials and local nurseries report numerous calls from concerned residents about a flood of grasshoppers that have been showing up in parts of the city and county in large numbers in recent days. Most of the callers are concerned about the possibility of damage that could come to their outdoor plants.

And it's not just residents complaining about the swarms of pesky hoppers. Businesses and public works crews are complaining that some areas are so riddled by the arriving grasshoppers that they can populate sidewalks, roads, driveways and porches, making it impossible to avoid stepping or driving across large numbers of the pesky green invaders and making clean up a major and unpleasant task.

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Cheryl Kent, an Extension Service horticulture specialist, says an increase in the number of grasshoppers is not unusual and generally is caused by a combination of factors. Following an extended summer drought like last year, substantial rains last fall, a mild winter and warming temperatures this spring have probably all contributed to a spike in the number of grasshopper eggs hatching this year.