Farmers and ranchers already know: Mormon crickets are back

Jun 21, 2023, 4:33 PM

Millions of shield-backed katydids, or Mormon crickets, arrived in Elko, Nevada this month. It was ...

Utah's invasion of Mormon crickets photographed Tuesday morning, May 29, 2012 near Beaver. But state and federal agencies jumped into the battle early, and they think they may have won the fight. (Alan Neeves, Deseret News)

(Alan Neeves, Deseret News)

ELKO, Nevada — Millions of shield-backed katydids, or Mormon crickets, arrived in Elko, Nevada this month.

It was expected. Making a stop in the Intermountain West is pretty common, said the state officials who keep their eyes on bugs.

“They are cyclical,” State Entomologist Kris Watson said. “It’s a 20-year cycle for Mormon crickets. So these pests will come and they will boom in population and then bust.”

And Watson said indeed, it has been about 20 years since our last infestation. “So we’re probably due for increased populations in certain areas.”

They aren’t a physical threat to humans

To say they aren’t a threat to humans is to say they don’t want anything from us. 

“They’re annoying, large, and creepy,” Watson said.

But don’t say they weren’t an emotional threat to people in Elko, where, USA Today reports, residents were blowing the crickets off of hospital walls with leaf blowers a few weeks ago so that people could get inside.

Farmers and ranchers will tell a different story about the damage done by Mormon crickets. The Idaho Statesman reports that farmers in southern Idaho are calling officials for help to keep their crops from being destroyed by the insects. The crops of apple and cherry farmers are particularly at risk.

Is all the water to blame?

Utah’s record-breaking snowfall has been tied to a lot of things in recent months, namely, the state’s reservoirs and the Great Salt Lake filling back up after a historic battle with drought. But while the water is feeding the food the insects eat, it’s not necessarily bringing more of them here.

“Drought is more of a common thing for these critters to thrive in,” Watson said. Other than this year or right now, Utah has been in a megadrought for two decades.

As for that name

The shield-backed katydids are more commonly known as Mormon Crickets, although they are not crickets. They got the name when pioneers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints first had to deal with swarms of them in the late 1840s.

Other reading: Cockroaches are becoming immune to insecticides. Have a great day

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Business + Economy

Utah small business...

Adam Small

Several small Utah cities named best in country for starting businesses

Utah boasts several small cities that are ranked among some of the best in the country to start up a small business.

9 hours ago

A car is filled at a gas pump in Sandy on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. Hurricane season could affect ga...

Britt Johnson

Hurricane season could mean bad news for Utah gas prices

Hurricane season is expected to be intense this year, and while none of them should hit Utah rising gas prices probably will. 

4 days ago

The Delta Center shown...


League approves new NHL team in Utah, owned by Ryan, Ashley Smith

The NHL Board Of Governors approved the establishment of a new hockey franchise (previously Arizona Coyotes) in Utah by Ryan Smith.

4 days ago

slc skyline, the state has introduced the Startup State Initiative...

Heather Peterson

Utah launches Startup State Initiative to help entrepreneurs and small businesses

The Startup State Initiative helps Utahns conduct market research, create a business plan, or network with community partners.

4 days ago

An NYU study shows that people with volatile work schedules are more likely to have health concerns...

Emma Keddington

Volatile work schedules linked to burnout and health problems

A new study finds that volatile work schedules causes burnout and is detrimental to overall health.

5 days ago

Signs are posted for the 2024 Sundance Film Festival on Main Street in Park City on Thursday, Jan. ...

Collin Leonard,

Sundance Institute seeks proposals for future location of film festival

The institute is asking for formal proposals in an initial information-gathering period.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

Farmers and ranchers already know: Mormon crickets are back