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Crickets swarm towns in the West

By Monica Danielle, Accuweather.com
In recent years, cricket outbreaks across the West have only worsened, and the climate crisis might be partially to blame. Photo by Petr Ganaj/Pexels
In recent years, cricket outbreaks across the West have only worsened, and the climate crisis might be partially to blame. Photo by Petr Ganaj/Pexels

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While cicadas invade much of the eastern United States, swarms of crickets are taking over towns in the West. Some roads in Idaho have been so covered with crickets that maintenance crews had to bring in a tractor to clear them off.

"This video is from State Highway 51 last week. Mormon crickets are taking over the road this season! Watch out for slick spots. If you get queasy easily, don't watch this with the volume on," the Idaho Transportation Department posted on X.

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Native to North America, Mormon crickets, which can grow up to 2 inches in length, got their name in the 1800s when the giant insects ruined the fields of Mormon settlers. The insects are not true crickets, though. They are actually shield-backed, short-winged katydids that resemble fat grasshoppers and cannot fly, according to the University of Nevada, Reno's College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources.

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In recent years, outbreaks across the West have only worsened, and the climate crisis might be partially to blame. Drought conditions encourage Mormon cricket outbreaks, which, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), can result in billions of insects and cause major economic and ecological losses to rangeland and cropland.

"In large numbers, their feeding can contribute to soil erosion, poor water quality, nutrient-depleted soils, and potentially cause damage to range and cropland ecosystems," the University of Nevada, Reno, said.

Typically, these flightless insects travel together, covering at least a quarter of a mile per day. As they devour vegetation, countless crops are damaged, and natural patterns like erosion, water runoff and nutrient cycling are abruptly changed, the USDA said.

Video footage taken by Spring Creek, Nevada, resident Kyra Adams on May 14 shows thousands of Mormon crickets crawling over her home, a church and other local businesses.

"They cover our homes, buildings and when run over will bloody our roads and leave a horrible smell from sitting in the hot summer sun!" Adams told Storyful. "Imagine you just want to go to church and this is what you see."

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