Millions of Mormon crickets invade Elko, Nevada

Jun 8, 2023, 8:07 PM | Updated: Jun 9, 2023, 8:20 am

ELKO, Nev. — Millions of Mormon crickets have descended on six counties in Nevada creating a bug-infested nightmare for many residents.

“They’re just gross,” Elko resident Precious Drake said. “They look like spiders, and they poop everywhere.”

The crickets converged on Elko on Monday, covering vegetation, the roadways and even the Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital’s walls.

“Just to get patients into the hospital we had people out there with leaf blowers, with brooms, at one point we even had a tractor with a snowplow on it just to push the piles of crickets and move them on their way,” said Steve Burrows, director of community relations at Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital.

According to Jeff Knight, an entomologist for the Nevada Department of Agriculture, the crickets have a four-to-six-year cycle and then disappear for a while. The dormant period for Elko and the other five counties seeing the infestation ended in 2019 – and so now they’re back.

“Basically, these insects are one generation a year, so about July they start laying eggs, normally those eggs will develop in the winter and hatch in the spring,” Knight said.  “This year we’re really delayed, we didn’t get hatching until mid-April, so the wet winter and the winter we had dictated that.”

Knight said the crickets, which are in a migratory phase, will move about a mile a day. The problem is, they travel on the roads creating dangerous conditions.

“They get run over, two or three come out and eat their buddy and they get run over and the roads can get covered with crickets and they can get slick,” Knight said. “The bigger issue is these afternoon thunderstorms and put a little water on that and it gets slick, we’ve had a number of accidents caused by crickets.”

Knight said the Nevada Department of Transportation has used sand on the roads in areas where the crickets have left a slick layer. He added they’ve also used snowplows to remove them.

As for the crickets filling yards and climbing residential walls, he encourages those homeowners to wait them out. He says they should pass through the area in three to six days.

“I do sympathize with people because it is overwhelming to have these kinds of population but will go away.”

For Drake, it’s easier said than done. She woke up to one on her bed this morning.

“I have an electric outlet without a cover and one of them got in and was looking at me when I woke up!” she said laughing. “They also drop from the ceiling, they’re just super gross.”

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Millions of Mormon crickets invade Elko, Nevada