Have you ever wondered why the Utah state bird is a California Gull? It’s because they saved the Mormon settlers by eating hordes of crickets that were destroying their crops in 1848. This event is known as the miracle of the gulls. The gulls were credited to saving the second harvest of the Mormon pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley. Even though it’s called a Mormon cricket, it’s not a cricket. It’s actually a shield-backed katydid.
Identification of Mormon Crickets
Mormon crickets are large insects that can get as big as three inches and live throughout western North America. They vary in color and can be black, brown, purple, red or green. They have a shield that covers their wings. The wings are ornamental because they don’t fly, but they can move; 1.5 miles a day and 50 miles a season. They will eat anything in their path and can devastate crops. They destroy grasses and other vegetation by eating plant stems and leaves. This damages the plants’ growth and seed production, which also decreases the amount of food for livestock. Other than being a serious agricultural pest, they can also become a traffic hazard. They can create a slippery surface on roads as they march across highways and roads. They have been known to cause accidents.
Mormon Cricket Invasions
The males will chirp, and the females have a long appendage called an ovipositor that looks like a stinger, but it isn’t. She uses it to push dirt, so she can lay her eggs on the surface of the soil. Female Mormon crickets can lay up to 100 eggs every summer. These eggs will hatch the following spring. Swarms can number in the thousands. When populations explode they can form roving bands. These bands can include millions of single crickets per square meter. Infestations can last for decades and can increase in population and then decrease. Some scientists believe that infestations are related to weather. Because they have cannibalistic behavior, the swarming may be due to their need to constantly be on the move to avoid attacks from behind.
Where Do Mormon Crickets Live?
Outbreaks are common, and populations build slowly. The good news is that these outbreaks are easy to predict. For control to be effective it’s best to monitor signs of an invasion. Mormon crickets love moist, dark places like basements and crawlspaces, but you may also find them in other areas of your home. When numbers are large you may find dried excrement that looks like coffee grounds that will settle on flat surfaces.
Professional Pest Management
Smooth, physical barriers at least two feet high can be effective in keeping Mormon crickets off your property as Mormon crickets can’t fly but this may not be very practical. It also helps to keep your landscape trimmed to minimize hiding places. If you need professional help with Mormon crickets or any pests, contact Rentokil. We can evaluate any pest problem and develop an effective treatment plan.
How to Get Rid of Mormon Crickets Making Noise at Night Outside Your Smithfield, UT Home in Salt Lake County and Northern Utah
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