Attack of the Crickets | God's World News
Attack of the Crickets
News Shorts
Posted: June 21, 2023
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    Mormon crickets climb over a road barrier in Spring Creek, Nevada. (AP/Rick Bowmer)
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    Mormon crickets cover the roads, turning them slick. (AP/Rick Bowmer)
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Elko, Nevada, is home to 20,000 people—and millions of Mormon crickets.

These blood-red insects cover buildings and roads. Their rotten-meat-like stench fills the air. Some locals plug their noses while driving. Bugs crunch and pop under car tires. They stick to the bottoms of shoes. They sneak into homes. The pests fall off ceilings and into peoples’ hair.

Despite the name, these critters aren’t actually crickets. They’re shield-backed katydids. Unlike crickets, they can’t fly. But they still manage to get everywhere.

The crawlers eat almost anything. They gobble up crops. They even eat other dead katydids.

Mormon cricket eggs can lie hidden for up to 11 years, about an inch deep in the soil. In May, the latest batch began to hatch. The pests travel in bands. Their huge groups can cover five acres to hundreds of acres. The bugs have invaded much of northern Nevada. But in Elko, the infestation is especially bad.

These katydids don’t bite humans. But they cause quite a nuisance. They coat the roads and turn them slippery. Officials put up highway signs warning of slick streets. At least one vehicle slid on the crickets and into a ditch.

But Elko locals fight back. They use brooms, leaf blowers, and pressure washers. They move piles of insects with snow plows.

“It’s almost like a biblical plague,” says Elko resident Dana Dolan.

One hospital even hired a “Cricket Patrol.” These four employees cleared crickets so patients could enter the building.

Mormon crickets have invaded before. Jeff Knight remembers four other outbreaks. He works for the Nevada Department of Agriculture. He’s the state entomologist (a person who studies insects).

“We can go almost 10, 15 years without hardly seeing any,” says Mr. Knight.

The bugs should disappear by mid-August. Where will they all go? They will die once they lay eggs, says Mr. Knight.

But don’t worry, bug lovers. They’ll probably be back. Just wait about 11 years.

He spoke, and the locusts came, young locusts without number. — Psalm 105:34

For more about crickets, see The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden in our Recommended Reading.