Crick­ets on the march in U.S.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CLASSIFIEDS/FEATURES -

Farm­ers in the U.S. West face a creepy scourge ev­ery eight years or so: Swarms of rav­en­ous in­sects that can dec­i­mate crops and cause slip­pery, bugslick car crashes as they march across high­ways and roads.

Ex­perts say this year could be a ban­ner one for Mor­mon crick­ets - 3-inch-long bugs named af­ter the Mor­mon pi­o­neers who moved West and learned first­hand the in­sect’s dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect on for­age and grain fields.

The U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s An­i­mal Plant Health In­spec­tion Ser­vice re­ports “sig­nif­i­cantly higher Mor­mon cricket pop­u­la­tions” on fed­eral land in south­west­ern Idaho, agency spokes­woman Abbey Powell wrote in an email to The As­so­ci­ated Press.

“There isn’t a clear ex­pla­na­tion why pop­u­la­tions are so much higher this year,” Powell wrote. “We know that pop­u­la­tions are cycli­cal . ... In Idaho, in a few lo­ca­tions, we have seen pop­u­la­tions as high as 70 per square yard.”

The bugs can start to be detri­men­tal to ran­ge­land and crops when they num­ber about 8 per square yard, state of­fi­cials said.

The fed­eral agency says the bugs- ac­tu­ally katy­dids, an en­to­mo­log­i­cal cousin to grasshop­pers - are stretched in a band across south­west­ern Idaho, con­cen­trated around Win­nemucca, Ne­vada; and sprin­kled through­out Ore­gon, Washington, Mon­tana, Wy­oming, Ari­zona and Colorado.

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