A city in Nevada witnessed an invasion of Mormon crickets (Anabrus simplex) that flooded streets and homes, frightening residents with their bloody coloration and foul odor. The insects began hatching in late May and early June, and they have been haunting locals ever since.
Residents and workers have tried to fight the infestation with brooms, blowers, pressure washers and snow blowers, but it hasn’t worked. State officials posted signs throughout Elko County warning drivers of slippery roads due to crushed insects. One hospital even hired temporary workers to clear the area of crickets long enough for patients to enter the building.
Residents complain about the horrible smell that crickets leave behind, similar to burning flesh. The insects stick to the tires and soles of shoes, and their corpses are lying everywhere, even in gymnasiums. Some people compare the phenomenon to the plague of locusts described in the Bible.
Blood-red crickets are not a new phenomenon in Nevada and other parts of the United States. There have been about 4 invasions of these insects in the past 40 years, the largest of which was in the early 2000s. Such events are related to the breeding patterns of this species.
Each spring, crickets born that year mate and lay a new generation of eggs in the soil. These eggs should hatch the following spring, but some of them will lie in the soil for up to 11 years. Eggs can accumulate in the dirt for years until a drought comes, which causes all the “dormant” eggs to hatch at once.
Entomologists explain that an infestation of crickets poses no threat to human or animal health, but can cause economic losses. For example, crickets can harm agriculture by feeding on and destroying plants. However, most insects are killed by disease and predators, and the crickets that remain after an infestation die quickly from starvation and heat.
Blood-red crickets have attracted the attention of scientists and conservation experts. These insects can serve as indicators of climate and ecosystem change because they respond to changes in humidity and temperature. In addition, crickets can be useful as a source of protein for human nutrition.
Although blood-red crickets may be of concern to Nevada residents, they do not pose a serious threat to the health and economy of the region. These insects are part of nature and, like all living organisms, play a role in the ecosystem.