'It's a mess!' Massive amounts of Mormon crickets invade Clark County, other parts of eastern Idaho - East Idaho News

‘It’s a mess!’ Massive amounts of Mormon crickets invade Clark County, other parts of eastern Idaho

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DUBOIS — Bonnie Stoddard still remembers a summer in the 1940s when Mormon Crickets invaded Clark County.

Her parents had just started a ranch when the insects marched in by the hoards and left a mark.

“They pretty well took care of all the hay fields that year. They were all over the county at that time so the guys brought in sawdust and poisoned the sawdust for the crickets to eat,” recalls Stoddard, who is now 93 and one of the county’s oldest residents.

Since then, the crickets have occasionally returned in much smaller numbers over the years but this week they’re back – and they’re everywhere.

“They waited until the rodeo was over last weekend and then they moved into town. It’s a mess,” Stoddard says.

Mormon crickets, which are actually not crickets but grasshopper – like katydids, eat shrubs, grasses, fruit trees, grains, vineyards and fields. They cannot fly but are able to travel long distances and measure 1.5 to 2 inches in length.

crickets on building
Clark County Idaho Emergency Management

Their name goes back to when the insects invaded Mormon settlers’ crops in the Salt Lake area in the mid-1800s, according to Washington State University.

“They lay eggs in the ground, hatch and just keep moving and moving,” says Ron Patterson, University of Idaho Horticulture and Agriculture Specialist. “They’re usually out in a natural environment and if native controls don’t work, they migrate to where people are.”

Dubois, Blackfoot and other parts of eastern Idaho are experiencing the sudden surge in crickets this week. Photos sent to EastIdahoNews.com show the insects by the thousands on buildings, cars, roads, houses, signs and other places.

mormon crickets 2
Joseph Sagers

Clark County Idaho Emergency Management

Last month, Elko, Nevada experienced a similar swarm of Mormon crickets and northern Utah counties reported invasions as well.

“When highways begin to look like this with the seasonal arrival of Mormon crickets, we plow and sand for better driving traction…Signs on area highways are a reminder to TAKE IT SLOW when crickets make for potentially slick driving,” the Nevada Department of Transportation warned on Twitter last spring during an explosion of Mormon crickets.

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture has a cost share program to handle grasshoppers and crickets, according to Joseph Sagers, a University of Idaho Agronomy Extension Educator. The ISDA provides the chemical and farmers are responsible for applying it on their crops.

“If farmers think they are going to be impacted by the crickets, they should contact ISDA to try and curtail the numbers. An action this year could prevent the population size next year,” Sagers explains.

Stoddard says crews are out spraying the crickets and hopes they don’t cause too much damage to crops.

“They’ve been killing them and hopefully they go away. They’re such a pest,” Stoddard says.