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Mormon cricket

Mormon Cricket

Mormon Crickets - Questions and Answers

Q. What kind of insects are Mormon crickets?
A. Mormon crickets are not true crickets. They are a shieldbacked katydid (family Tettigoniidae, subfamily Decticinae), scientific name: Anabrus simplex Haldeman.
Q. How did they get their name?
A. The crickets got their nickname when they devoured the Mormon settler's crops in Utah. Seagulls saved the settlers when they feasted on the crickets.
Q. Are they dangerous to people or pets?
A. For homeowners the crickets are more of a nuisance than a danger.
Q. Are Mormon crickets native to Idaho?
A. Mormon crickets live in western North America in rangeland dominated by sagebrush and other native plants. Their habitat begins in southern Canada and ranges south to northern New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California.
Q. How long do they live?
A. These insects may live from 60 to 90 days, and undergo seven stages of development. These stages are called "instars." The crickets hatch in the spring when soil temperatures reach 40°F. They reach maturity by late summer, at which time they mate, lay eggs and then die. A female may lay up to 80 eggs.
Q. What do they look like?
A. The adult Mormon cricket is a large insect and may grow to around two inches in length. Females are generally larger than the males. Most of the insects are brown, but green, black and other colors may be observed.
Q. How fast and how far can they migrate?
A. Older instars and adults can migrate from one half to one mile a day, and cover 25 to 50 miles in a season. They move primarily by crawling or hopping. Their wings do not work well for flight. They move mostly in the daytime.
Q. What do they eat?
A. Mormon crickets damage forage plants and cultivated crops in their path. Although their natural diet consists of a wide variety of indigenous plants, they relish cultivated plants such as wheat, barley, alfalfa, clover and vegetable gardens.
Q. What causes a large infestation of Mormon crickets?
A. A proliferation of insects is just a part of their natural cycle. Many insects, as well as other animals such as lemmings, experience the same boom and bust cycle. These cycles can last several years.
Q. What can farmers and ranchers do to rid themselves of these pests?
A. Farmers and ranchers infested with crickets should call the Idaho Department of Agriculture to see what their options are. In some circumstances a bait made of rolled wheat that contains a poison called Carbaryl may be available.
Q. What can homeowners do to rid themselves of these pests?
A. Homeowners may purchase commercial insect (grasshopper) bait at most garden supply stores. It is very important to follow the instructions on the package because if too much is applied it could endanger pets, birds and other small animals. Only a small amount is needed to kill the crickets. The crickets are cannibalistic, so others may eat those killed by the poison, and they will also die.

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