Mormon crickets are back in the Pacific Northwest. The Nevada Department of Agriculture has issued a reminder to Nevadans to report Mormon cricket infestations as one southwest Idaho town has become infested.
“Mormon cricket populations have been steadily increasing over the last few years, and our partnership with the USDA Plant Protection and Quarantine program allows us to monitor for infestations that pose a threat to public safety or agriculture,” Jeff Knight, state entomologist for the NDA, said.
The Mormon cricket, named for invading the crops of the Mormon settlers in the Salt Lake Area in the mid-1800s, is actually not a true cricket, but rather a shield-backed katydid.
Although they are not known to carry disease, in large numbers, Mormon crickets pose a safety threat because they can create unsafe road conditions. When populations reach outbreak levels, Mormon crickets can also devastate crops and orchards.
According to Washington State University experts, outbreaks usually occur when conditions are ideal for their growth and development, and can last from 5 to 20 years. Like grasshoppers, populations tend build up slowly so it is possible to predict areas at risk.
Earlier this month, the town of Murphy, Idaho was invaded by the pests, crawling all over the exterior walls of building such as the Owyhee County Courthouse.
To report Mormon crickets anywhere in Nevada, officials ask provide as much detail about the infestation as possible using the Mormon cricket and grasshopper reporting form available at agri.nv.gov/entomology, or call the NDA Entomology Laboratory at (775) 353-3767.
The laboratory will dispatch staff to evaluate the site, map the infestation, and determine if the area is treatable. NDA staff can only treat infestations on public lands that are adjacent to roads, towns, cities or crops, and it is against federal law for private individuals to treat public land.