“It’s almost like a biblical plague,” Dana Dolan of Elko, Nevada, tells Rio Yamat and Rick Bowmer of the Associated Press.
Elko, Nevada, is currently grappling with an extraordinary and unsettling situation resembling a scene from a horror movie, per Interesting Engineering.
The town is experiencing a massive invasion of blood-red crickets known as Mormon crickets. These imposing insects, scientifically called Anabrus simplex, are not directly harmful to humans, but their presence is causing chaos and distress among the residents.
Mormon crickets are flightless insects native to the western half of North America. Despite their name, they actually belong to the katydid or bush cricket group rather than true crickets.
They were named after Mormon migrants who encountered cricket invasions in their crops near the Great Salt Lake.
Normally, these insects hatch from eggs laid in the soil each year, forming groups that migrate across the region while devouring vegetation along their path. However, this year, the crickets have reached towns and cities, including Elko, sparking concern among the locals.
Described as akin to a biblical plague, the invasion of millions of crickets has left the residents feeling like they are living through a gory crash scene. The unusual timing of this year's invasion can be attributed to delayed hatching caused by wet conditions during the winter and spring in Northern Nevada. Additionally, a recent drought in the area may have played a role in prompting the hatching.
Although these blood-red crickets do not directly threaten humans, they emit a repugnant odor and exhibit opportunistic cannibalistic behavior. If crushed by humans or vehicles, they can trigger swarms of their kin to engage in a disturbing feeding frenzy, creating a nightmarish spectacle.
Hospitals and busy businesses in Elko have assigned employees to ward off the insects using brooms, leaf blowers, and any tools at hand, albeit with limited success.
Residents have resorted to various methods to combat the invasion, including sweeping the crickets away with brooms, using leaf blowers, pressure washers, and even snow plows. Unfortunately, the crickets persistently return. State officials have erected warning signs for drivers on slick highways where the insects gather and feast on their deceased companions.
Social media platforms are flooded with videos and photos showcasing swarms of blood-red crickets covering highways, lawns, and even the walls of homes in the area. Pest control expert Charles Carmichael likens the situation to the movie "The Birds," but with crickets. He estimates that the crickets outnumber the town's population by a staggering ratio of 75 to one.
Despite their larger size, these crickets can find their way into homes through crawl spaces, air vents, ducts, or hitching a ride on clothing. Carmichael advises using poisoned bait to lure the crickets away from homes. If they manage to enter, bug repellents can be used to deter them.
While the invasion of Mormon crickets in Elko is not unprecedented in terms of size, it is highly unusual due to its timing. The delayed hatching of the eggs, which typically occurs in the spring, is the primary factor behind this year's infestation.
“Elko’s infestation is expected to die down by mid-August, but it can take time for surges in Mormon cricket populations to stabilize. Outbreaks in the area have been known to last for five to 21 years at a time, according to the Nevada Department of Agriculture, and buried eggs can lay dormant for up to a decade or more.”
Elko, Nevada, finds itself amid a real-life horror movie scenario as the town grapples with a massive invasion of blood-red crickets. Although not directly harmful, these insects have caused distress and chaos among the residents. Efforts to combat the invasion have proven challenging, with the crickets persistently returning.
This extraordinary event serves as a reminder of nature's intricate and often surprising dynamics that can unfold, leaving us both fascinated and unsettled.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.
If you would like to receive NewsBreak stories delivered free on your mobile phone, download the NewsBreak App. If you use my link, I receive a small commission at no cost to you.