U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
 
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Release Number: BMFO-2004-12
For Release: April 27, 2004

MORMON CRICKET/GRASSHOPPER PROBLEMS?

CONTACT INFORMATION

Mormon crickets and grasshoppers are on the move in north and central Nevada – again. According to Nevada’s state entomologist, Jeff Knight, the number of acres affected will probably equal or exceed last year’s count of 6 million. Drought conditions in Nevada over the last several years have allowed Mormon cricket and grasshopper eggs, laid in the previous season, to survive in spite of lower temperatures and increased precipitation during the 2004 winter season. According to Bureau of Land Management hydrologists, it will take several years of above average precipitation to recover from the past 4 years of drought conditions.

Help is available to address insect infestations. Congress appropriated $6.7 million to control Mormon crickets and grasshoppers over a 5-year span in Nevada. The money will be transferred as a grant to the State of Nevada, Department of Agriculture (NDOA). In cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal, Plant, Health Inspection Service (APHIS), NDOA will spend about $1.4 million of these funds in 2004, which is more than three times that of 2003, for control programs in Nevada.

The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) role is to protect public lands from cricket and grasshopper infestations and to counter the potential for their spread onto neighboring federal (other than BLM), locally controlled (state, county or city) or private lands, crops and communities.

The BLM is authorizing and requesting treatment on public lands from NDOA through Pesticide Use Proposals (PUPs). The BMFO has prepared PUPs for the counties of Esmeralda,

Eureka, Lander and Nye. Additionally, Site-Specific Environmental Assessments (EAs)

prepared and approved by APHIS and the BLM that target crickets and grasshoppers, have

concluded that carbaryl (bait-ground application), malathion (liquid-ground & aerial spray application), and diflubenzuron (liquid-ground & aerial spray application) are non-toxic to most plants and animals when applied at label rates.

Mormon cricket and grasshopper infestation and migration sightings on public lands within the Battle Mountain District are of interest to the BLM and can be reported to the following locations:

Battle Mountain Field Office Tonopah Field Station

(Eureka & Lander Counties) (Esmeralda & Nye Counties)

Richard Kurtz, Weed & Pest Mgmt. Specialist Valerie Metscher, Rangeland Mgmt. Specialist

(775) 635-4000 (775- 482-7800)

richard_kurtz@nv.blm.gov valerie_metscher@nv.blm.gov

The NDOA has publications available on crickets and grasshoppers.

Identified and Proposed Public Land Treatment Sites:

1. Per NDOA and USDA, APHIS approximately 75,000 acres within the Battle Mountain District of the BLM have been identified for 2004 Treatment, Survey/Possible Treatment, and Survey.

2. Per BMFO and TFS of the BLM approximately 150,000 additional acres are being proposed to NDOA and USDA, APHIS for 2004 Treatment, Survey/Possible Treatment, and Survey Treatment.

3. Per the Eureka County Public Lands Division – Eureka County Mormon Cricket Infestation 2003 (Survey) – Dated September 16, 2003, approximately 313,633 additional acres are being proposed to NDOA and USDA-APHIS-PPQ for 2004 Treatment, Survey/Possible Treatment, and Survey Treatment.

Private Land Treatment:

Private land owners are encouraged to work directly with NDOA to obtain pest control and contact the following for further information:

Martin Larraneta, Senior Agriculturalist Jeff Knight, Entomologist

Nevada Department of Agriculture Nevada Department of Agriculture

Winnemucca, NV Reno, NV

(775) 623-6502 (775) 688-1182

mlar@the-onramp.net jknight@govmail.state.nv.us

The NDOA has publications available on crickets and grasshoppers.


MORMON CRICKET FACTS

History: In 1848, a swarm of Mormon crickets threatened to ruin crops of the Mormons living in Utah, but flocks of gulls suddenly appeared and ate the insects, hence the name “Mormon” crickets.

1. The Mormon cricket is not really a cricket but belongs to the family of katydids and long-horned grasshoppers.

2. They are brown, black or green and measure 1” to 2 ?” in length.

3. Lives in open sagebrush-grass associations and mountain ranges of the Great Basin. Found at elevations of 500-11,000 feet.

4. Found in precipitation zones form 6 – 20 inches.

5. Emerge in spring when soil temperatures reach 40°F and are fully grown by summer.

6. Prolonged periods of rain, snow or daily freezing temperatures of the late fall and early winter end the annual life-cycle.

7. Eggs are laid, one at a time, in the summer and develop and are dormant over the winter. The female may produce up to 160 eggs, laying as many as 35 eggs per day.

8. Daily life-cycle includes emerging 1-2 hours after sunrise and seeks shelter prior to sunset on clear days.

9. Density of one cricket per square yard consumes forage equal to 38 pounds dry weight per acre. Feeds on more than 400 species of plants, however, relishes cultivated plants. Densities can be reached as great as 100 crickets per square yard. High densities may persist for years.

10. Migrate while staying on site for no more than 3 – 4 days at a time.

11. Flightless but very mobile, traveling in cohesive bands from 25–50 miles in a single season.

12. Make a hoarse chirping sound which is repeated at intervals and is used for courting, to signal danger, or for staking out their territory.

13. Can be found in open fields from the Missouri River to northern Arizona, west to southeastern California and north to Alberta, Canada.


CLEAR-WINGED GRASSHOPPER

1. Lives in a variety of grasslands throughout North America at elevations up to 10,800 feet.

2. Commonly found in wet pasture habitats.

3. Density of 20 grasshoppers per square yard will consume the entire available yield of forage grasses on rangelands. Outbreaks on rangelands may devastate grass forage in areas as large as 1.3 million acres. Feeds mainly on succulent grasses and small grains but may invade vegetable crops.

4. Egg beds may contain as many as 3,000-100,000 eggs per square foot. Eggs hatch when soil temperatures reach 80ºF after egg deposition and winter chilling of 41ºF for a minimum of 70 days.

5. Migrate in small swarms (recent years) for short duration but long distances away from egg beds.

6. Emerge in mid-spring when soil temperatures rise above a threshold of 55ºF. Prolonged periods of rain, snow or daily freezing temperatures of the late fall and early winter end the annual life-cycle.

7. Daily life-cycle includes hot, sunny afternoon flights and female flights from feeding grounds to egg beds during the hottest part of the day.


Male Mormon Cricket
Male Mormon Cricket
Female Mormon Cricket
Female Mormon Cricket
 
Last updated: 03-13-2008