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“Mormon crickets” invade Franklin County

Over the past several weeks, “Mormon crickets” have been causing quite the stir in parts of southern Idaho.

Millions of shield-backed katydids have made their way down from the mountains of the Bannock Range and invaded towns in Franklin County.

Bracken Henderson of the University of Idaho’s Franklin County Extension said the cricket-like insects started showing up nearly three weeks ago north of Clifton.

The species is native to Idaho, but Bracken said he’s never seen them where they are now.

“Talkin’ to a lot of the old-timers, 80, 90 years old, they’ve never seen them either. It’s a unique year,” he said.

The insects seem to be coming in phases and moving south, something Dayton homeowner Lain Telford found out the hard way.

“I got home Wednesday night about midnight and they were just covering the house,” she said. “It’s like the movie “Arachnophobia” where the spiders take over the house. That’s what it felt like.”

Telford said the insects were “coming across the driveway in droves” when she called Henderson.

Together, they got a spray to help contain the problem, but it was nearly three days before Telford noticed any change.

By Monday, things had died down significantly. While there were still many bushes filled with hundreds of katydids, Telford said it was 10 times worse at the start.

“You couldn’t go down my driveway without squishing hundreds of them in the car. And my kids wouldn’t come outside, two days they stayed in the house,” she explained.

Luckily, this isn’t something people really need to worry about.

Aside from eating crops, Henderson said the insects don’t pose any real threat and that people shouldn’t be panicking.

“Because they’ve been moving through, seemingly, fairly quickly, and with the spray, they’ve been more of a nuisance than a real concern.”

Most people won’t experience them, but should they show up on your property, Henderson recommends you call him (if you live in Franklin County) or any extension office.

Three of their four phases have hit so far and now it’s a waiting game to see where it happens.

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