Nevada agriculture officials in Humboldt County are starting to get the upper hand on a major Mormon Cricket invasion.
It's being called the worst infestation in 70 years. The insects have caused several thousand dollars in damage to crops.
But now it appears the end is in sight - at least for this year.
These critters are so vile they will even eat each other alive. The
good news is that the poison that is killing the one will also kill the
other . . . and Martin Larraneta of the Nevada Dept. of Agriculture couldn't be more pleased.
For weeks he and his crews have been trying to stay ahead of marching Mormon Crickets that eat and destroy anything and everything in their path. They will even eat the paint off of houses.
But now it appears there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Here in Water Canyon the crickets have stopped moving - perhaps because of the heat . . . perhaps because they will start breeding soon.
But, at least for now, they have stopped moving toward town.
"We've been putting thousands of pounds of bait up in this area since early March, and also a big aerial spray," says Larraneta. "So that kind of kept them in check. We've got a few trickling down, but we've got crews up herre just about every day baiting and keeping the population
Martin estimates the crickets have infested close to 6 million acres - twice as much as last year. And he fears if we have another mild
winter and spring, then the worst is yet to come.
"If we have another mild winter and spring and there's a high survival rate, they could increase ten times. I can't imagine how bad it would be, but it would be devastating if that happens," he says.
Even though the worst may be over for Martin and his crews, the
crickets in Water Canyon are still a force to be reckoned with.
They are literally eating everything in sight. They have eaten the sagebrush down to the branches and leaves from trees. And when that's not enough, they will eat each other.
Soon they will deposit their egg sacks into the ground to continue the cycle of pestilence. But the end won't truly come until the first frost hits . . . and that's still a long ways off.
The Nevada Department of Agriculture estimates the cost of controlling
the crickets next year could be as high as one million dollars if the
infestation continues to grow.