Year of the Cricket in Northern Nevada? - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Year of the Cricket in Northern Nevada?

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The Nevada Department of Agriculture is tracking this summer's migration of grasshoppers and Mormon crickets. How many of the pests are coming, and where?

State entomologist Jeff Knight keeps tabs on the neverending supply of bugs we get every summer. After blanketing parts of the Mountain West already, crickets are back and munching away. There are more in Nevada than last year. As he told us, "Last year we just had a couple of reports around Winnemucca, so we've seen a definite increase in the numbers."

Every once in a while, and scientists have no idea why…the cricket population explodes in a cicada-like swarm, devouring everything in its path. Homes get covered with them. Our last high point was the Mormon cricket invasion of 2005-2006, when Highway 50 east of Cold Springs was slick as ice from all the crickets moving along the road. As Knight recalls, "We had a number of accidents that were, if you will, cricket-related."

2006 was the last big year of northern Nevada cricketry, if that's a word. They were a dense mass in parts from north of 80, and from Cold Springs going east into Elko County. Some Nevada counties even declared states of emergency because of cricket-caused damage.

This year, the Mormon cricket swarm is centered around southern Idaho, and they've been showing up north of Reno in places like Winnemucca according to the current Nevada Department of Agriculture cricket survey. But Knight tells us, “So far the population's been relatively small in small areas."

And despite the swarms in parts of the Mountain West, he doesn't expect a crazy plague like we've seen in the past. Now that we're getting into August, the clock is running out for the hungry hoppers. As he put it, "By the time you get to the 4th of July to the middle of July, they're pretty much where they're going to be."

Grasshoppers? Same deal…not a big year. These critters are hard to predict, but Jeff expects more of ravenous creatures in 2018. This year, because of the grass grown from the wet winter, more females have been laying eggs. As he told us, "The populations we'll see next year will be substantially up from this year."

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