Times-News: Fewer Mormon Crickets Expected in 2013

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Mormon crickets—the bane of Intermountain West farmers—should have a smaller family reunion this coming summer, according to agriculture officials.

This morning's Twin Falls Times-News reports that Brian Marschman, director of Idaho's plant health for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, predicts fewer grasshoppers and Mormon crickets this year, due in large part to lower populations last year and an extreme cold spell earlier this year.

"It was the first time since the mid-1990s that we did not do any ground treatments," said Marschman."We're not expecting problems in the Magic Valley or, for that matter, anywhere else in the state this year."

The cycle of Mormon crickets usually rotates every seven to 10 years and in a few instances the pests can stick around for a lengthy period. One 11-state outbreak that began in 1931 last 17 years. The last major outbreak occurred in 2003, with Reuters News reporting in June 2003 that Mormon crickets had turned roads to "blood red."

Mormon crickets, which can grow to nearly 3 inches long, were named by Mormon pioneers in 1848 when large numbers of the insects attacked their crops. And despite its name, the Mormon cricket is actually a shield-backed katydid, not a cricket.

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