By Rosemary Pollock
Infested Again, Maybe Reno Should Pray for Seagulls
RENO, NEVADA -- For the third year in a row, crop and flower eating
Mormon crickets have homeowners in the Red Rock area north of Reno,
along with agricultural officials, concerned about the economic
damage to Nevada's rural economy. "It's the worst infestation by the
little buggers since the early 1970's," said Jeff Knight, an
entomologist for the Nevada Department of Agriculture.
The recent invasion of the Mormon cricket, so named due to its
relation to the long-horned grasshoppers, isn't technically a
cricket. The destruction it is causing is similar to that which
nearly destroyed the crops of Utah's Mormon settlers in 1848.
Accounts from the Mormon pioneers say that in response to prayer,
Seagulls came and devoured the bugs, saving the crops.
"We had them last year, and they were huge, " said Lorena Clark, who
works for Red Rock Estates. "This year, they're having their babies.
You can't kill them. They're hard little suckers, and they're ugly."
The adult life span is only about 20 days, but in that time, it can
eat four times its weight in vegetation every single day. With a
density of one per square yard, the cricket consumes an amount of
range land forage equal to about 38 pounds per acre. "When they're
banding up and moving around, they get huge numbers," said Robert
Gronowski, Agricultural Administrator.
"It would really be a disaster if they built up into big numbers and
attacked alfalfa, which is our biggest crop," Gronowski said. "If we
lose one of a season's three cuttings, farmers lose a third of their
income, and that's a major blow to the rural economy."
"They can grow to seven inches and get pretty fat, and they put out
an odor, a funny musty smell. That's one of the problems with them,
they do stink," Gronowski said. "We spent $300,000 to keep them from
causing more problems than they did, but they still ate a lot of
trees, shrubbery, everything."
The Department of Agriculture is providing some residents with
insecticide bait, but Knight said such a step is only effective in
helping to protect small areas such as individual gardens.
Big, ugly, stinky bugs taking over Nevada Mormon crickets threaten crops near Reno
San Francisco Chronicle 19May01 D6
By Larry D. Hatfield: Chronicle Staff Writer
Mormon crickets invade northern Nevada neighborhood
Las Vegas NV Sun (AP) 17May01 D6
Mormon Crickets Reinvade Reno; Swarm Most Notable in 2 Decades
Salt Lake Tribune (AP) 18May01 D6
Mormon Cricket Invasion This Year Will be Worse Than Ever
Tooele Still Trying to Get Rid of Mormon Crickets