Mormon Crickets making a comeback

Reported by: Van Tieu
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Updated: 6/30/2014 7:01 pm
SPARKS, Nev. ( & KRNV) -- It isn't the first time nuisance buggers have plagued the West. But this summer, they are back.

Hungry, cannibalistic Mormon Crickets have been hopping outside Empire, Nevada, about 100 miles north of Reno, and in Elko County. Just the thought of the big bugs brings back bad flashbacks of the record outbreak last decade across the West.

Although experts said it is not a concern right now, it could potentially lead to an infestation next summer. The insects are technically called long-horned grasshoppers, but earned the name Mormon Cricket, when they devastated Mormon settler's crops in the 1840's.

Nevada Department of Agriculture Entomologist Jeff Knight said the Mormon Crickets were picked up about two weeks ago. "The band of crickets up by Empire are very sparse. They're about one cricket every 2-3 square yards."

That's pretty small. He there is not a reason to bug out, at least not yet. "With the drought that's ongoing, this may be an indication that maybe next year is when we'll have really big numbers."

In 2004, the hungry hoppers reportedly covered 12 million acres in the Silver State. Adults can grow up to an inch and a half. Females can lay 80-100 eggs. Warm mild winters help the eggs hatch in spring.

"Indications are, drought kind of, if you will, kicks up their populations into gear," said Knight.

The Department of Agriculture is keeping a close eye on the insects. You can help by reporting any sightings of Mormon Crickets on their website.
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