Officials hopeful after decrease in Mormon cricket infestation

RENO — State officials say they’re encouraged by a dramatic drop in the size of Nevada’s Mormon cricket infestation this year.

The insects covered between 750,000 and 1 million acres of the state this year, about 10 percent of the area infested the previous year, said Jeff Knight, Nevada Department of Agriculture entomologist.

The crickets were concentrated this year in Elko County, the Eureka area and a portion of Sparks as they returned to Nevada for a seventh successive year in what Knight described as the worst such lingering infestation in 50 or 60 years. At a peak in 2005, the insect infested about 12 million acres of the state.

Mormon crickets swarm in groups by the thousands, gobbling lawns, gardens and crops. The insect became infamous after nearly destroying the crops of Utah’s Mormon settlers in 1848.

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