Mormon cricket infestation expected


ELKO -- Elko County is again expected to be a hotbed of Mormon cricket activity in Nevada this year, county commissioners were told.

This year's infestation is expected to be similar to last year, when an estimated one million acres were infested with the insects, with "hot spots" around Tuscarora, Mountain City and Jarbidge in the northeastern Nevada county, state entomologist Jeff Knight said.

Though cricket numbers were down drastically from 2004 through 2006 when more than 10 million acres were infested, commissioners expressed frustration that the infestation remains more of a problem in Elko County than any other part of the state.

"To me, I think we dropped the ball. If you think I'm happy with what happened (last year), I'm not," Commissioner John Ellison said.

Ellison noted wildfires in recent years have scorched two million acres in the county.

"We cannot lose any more grazing land up there because of crickets and that's why we try to be highly aggressive ... All we want from you guys is a promise you guys are going to be aggressive this year," he told Knight.

But Knight said the program ran more efficiently in 2008 than ever before.

Last year, 6,855 pounds of ground bait was applied statewide, and 6,122 pounds of that was in Elko County. There were no aerial applications.

Though cricket numbers are "on a downhill slide," Knight said funds are available to combat the insect if the infestation reaches levels seen from 2004 to 2006.

Growing up to 2 inches long as adults, the crickets swarm in groups thousands strong, gobbling lawns, gardens and crops. The insect was made infamous by nearly destroying the crops of Utah's Mormon settlers in 1848.

 

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