Mormon Cricket

Scientific Name:

Anabrus simplex

Type:

Insect

Habitat:

Range land

Range:

Range land up to 11,000 feet west of the Missouri River

Status:

Not applicable.

This species is

NATIVE

to the Truckee Meadows.

Identification:

Mormon crickets are large, at up to 2 inches in size, flightless, ground dwelling insects with spikes on their lower legs; they vary in color from orange, green, brown to black depending on their age, location and diet. Mormon crickets will eat range shrubs, and grasses as well as any agricultural crops in their path. The life cycle of a Mormon cricket begins when the eggs hatch in the spring (when the soil reaches 40 degrees), progressing through seven nymph stages before reaching adulthood in 60-90 days, then the female will lay individual eggs in late summer. The numbers of mormon crickets on the range are cyclical, and are significantly greater in drought years. Mormon crickets are most active between 65-95 degrees during daylight hours. While they do have wings, they cannot fly, but rather walk/crawl and occasionally jump, traveling up 1.25 miles per day or 50 miles per season.

Fast Facts:

  • In 1848  the recent immigrants to the Salt Lake valley (UT) had their newly established crops nearly destroyed by the momon crickets, and that is how the insects got their name. In that same year, there were infestations of mormon crickets in Reno, Austin and Winnemucca as well.

  • In 2003, Elko County Nevada declared a state of emergency as the mormon crickets were crawling on the walls of the hospital, and creating hazardous road conditions due to the slippery layers of crushed mormon crickets.

  • In addition to eating shrubs and agricultural crops, mormon crickets are cannibalistic and will eat their own

Sources:

  1. Identification and Management of Mormon Crickets UNR Extension

  2. Fowler, Catherine S. Willard Z. Park’s Ethnographic Notes on the Northern Paiute of Western Nevada, 1933-1944 Volume 1 University of Utah Anthropological Papers Number 114 1989 page 60

  3. Mormon Cricket Washington State University

  4. Reno Gazette Journal Drought Could Bring Crickets Back June 23, 2014

  5. Montana Field Guide Mormon Cricket

  6. Pioneering the West Howard Egans diary page 234

Contributor(s):

Regina Hockett (research & content)

Caroline Stillitano (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

March 11, 2022, 1:01:51 AM