State of Oregon Dealing With a Large Swarm of ‘Mormon Crickets’ and Grasshoppers

by Patrick Norton

In the Bible, The Book of Exodus brings forth God’s plan to whisk the Israelites from slavery under Egyptian rule. Using ten phenomena labeled the Plagues of Egypt, the Almighty Father turns water into blood, ushers an infestation of frogs, lice, locusts and darkness for three days. This week, it’s the Plagues of Oregon, and instead of lice and locusts, it’s grasshoppers and “Mormon crickets”.

Drought in the northwest is causing radical infestation of the insects on crops in the state, generating panic amongst ranchers. Large quantities of insecticides is the next course of action for the ranchers suffering from the swarms.

Mormon crickets – which aren’t even crickets, but specified as a shieldbacked katydid – feast on proteins. However, if not satisfied with the crops native to the area, the crickets turn to cannibalism.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture is recommending a chemical treatment to property where more than three crickets or eight grasshoppers appear per square yard. Areas surveyed already supersede the total, some reporting more than 200 per square yard.

While the Mormon crickets – named after Mormons encountered the insects while moving westward – pose a threat to the crops, the influx of grasshoppers theoretically provides more food for native wildlife. However, the insecticide would kill the katydids, grasshoppers and potentially wipe out Monarch butterflies and honeybees.

The potential impact of the food supply to the wildlife is causing pushback on the usage of chemical treatments. That hasn’t stopped 122 requests for the Department of Agriculture to survey deteriorating properties.

Mormon Crickets, Grasshoppers Just The Beginning

If these Oregon farmers have read the Bible, Mormon crickets are the least of their worries. Two months ago, a tipped trailer led to the daring escape of 31 cattle, shutting down an Oregon highway.

Upon exiting the livestock trailer, the cows caused massive traffic delays. Ironically, I’ve made the same exclamation driving into Chicago.

But the appearance of roaming cattle – once an outlandish image – could represent more than it seems. In the event of the sun’s disappearance for three days, or the advent of thunderstorms of fire, consult Exodus 10:17 for a proper apology.