Mormon crickets gather on this walkway in Milford.

Mormon crickets invade Milford

Morman crickets climb the walls of this home in Milford.

A Milford resident reports Mormon crickets are infesting his property.

Lassen News’ attempts to contact local experts on this topic were unsuccessful when we posted this story, but national and regional media outlets report large Mormon cricket infestations in Nevada.

USA Today reports the “flightless, ground-dwelling cannibalistic insects are creating nightmares of Biblical proportions” around Elko, Nevada.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “The Mormon cricket, a shieldbacked katydid (family Tettigoniidae, subfamily Decticinae) and not a true cricket, lives in western North America in rangeland dominated by sagebrush and forbs. Large populations develop in the open sagebrush-grass associations of the Great Basin and of mountain ranges … Mormon crickets damage forage plants on rangeland and cultivated crops in the path of their migrations. The adult Mormon cricket is a large insect; males average 3,400 mg live weight and females 4,100 mg (dry weight: males 960 mg, females 1,330 mg). Feeding tests demonstrate that during its nymphal period and 20 days of adult life, an average Mormon cricket consumes 3,518 mg of vegetation (dry weight). Calculations based on this figure indicate that at a density of one per square yard the Mormon cricket consumes an amount of rangeland forage equal to 38 pounds dry weight per acre. Because of their migratory habit, Mormon crickets may be present in a particular site for no more than three or four days. In this short time, their damage to rangeland is perceptible but not measurable by standard quantitative techniques. The Mormon cricket breeds only infrequently in cultivated fields, but migrating bands of nymphs or adults may completely destroy fields of sugarbeets, small grains and alfalfa.”

The range of Mormon crickets. USDA reports, “According to Jeff Knight, an entomologist for the Nevada Department of Agriculture, the crickets have a four-to-six-year cycle and then disappear for a while. The dormant period for Elko and the other five counties seeing the infestation ended in 2019 – and so now they’re back.

“Basically, these insects are one generation a year, so about July they start laying eggs; normally those eggs will develop in the winter and hatch in the spring,” Knight said. “This year we’re really delayed — we didn’t get hatching until mid-April, so the wet winter and the winter we had dictated that.”

Lassen News will update this story as more information becomes available.