DAYTON, Idaho — So-called "Mormon Crickets" have been showing up in large numbers in some southeast Idaho towns and in places where locals say they haven’t seen them before.
Lain Telford told KSL he came home last Wednesday night to quite an unpleasant surprise. Her driveway and the outside of walls of her house were crawling with what are known as Mormon Crickets.
“They were just all over the cobblestones on the house,” Telford explained. “It was just black, covering the house. They just hop all over, and they’re kind of freaky looking. They’re pretty big.”
Telford said she and her children ran into the house, screaming.
“They are freaky,” Telford said. “Our kids stayed inside for two days. (They) wouldn’t come outside. We sprayed, and you can see the guts all over the cement.”
Lain’s husband, Tyler Telford sprayed the outside of the house with insecticide. He said that has helped with the numbers.
“They don’t wig me out too bad, but my wife and kids sure don’t like them,” Tyler Telford said. “I don’t like them crawling on me.”
Bracken Henderson with the Idaho State University Extension Office for Franklin County said the crickets have shown up in Dayton and into various areas up to just south of Oxford, Idaho — areas that don’t typically don’t get hit with the swarms.
“Talking to the old-timers; 80-, 90-year-old people have never seen them in this area,” Henderson explained. “Drought conditions are supposed to make it worse, which is definitely not the case here. We’ve had one of the wetter springs that we’ve ever had.”
Scientifically, the three-inch-long insects are shield-backed katydids.
They got the other name after swarms of them attacked the crops of early pioneers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and were subsequently eaten by a flock of seagulls, in an apparent answer to the prayers of the pioneers.
People in Dayton wouldn’t mind seeing a return of seagulls to get rid of the insects. Fortunately, Henderson said area farms so far aren’t taking a major hit from the swarms.
“In the farmers’ fields, those have been attacked pretty quickly with insecticides,” Henderson said. “They seem to have gotten a handle on them early on.”