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Mormon Crickets are on the March in Douglas County!

A large mormon cricket on man's leg.

Despite their name and characteristic male chirping, Mormon crickets are not true crickets, but rather shield-backed katydids. These pests got their name by endangering the livelihood of Mormon pioneers in the mid-1800s. Pest outbreaks are common and typically occur when conditions are favorable for their development. Some outbreaks can last for up to 20 years. Mormon crickets are voracious feeders that attack a wide variety of field and forage crops, small grains, grapes and fruit trees.

Mormon cricketMormon crickets are large insects (1.5-2 inches) with variable coloration, from beautiful green or purple coloration of solitary individuals to dull black, brown and red coloration of swarming individuals. Females have a long ovipositor present at the end of the body that is used for laying eggs. Although adult insects do have ornamental wings, they are flightless. However, this doesn’t stop them from covering large distances during the swarming phase (up to 1.5 miles per day, 50 miles per season), eating everything in their path and having devastating effects on agricultural production.

Mormon crickets usually have one generation per year, with some exceptions at higher elevations where they require 2 years to complete the life cycle. Adults mate in early summer, after which females lay eggs in the ground. Each female can lay over 100 eggs. Eggs hatch the following spring (March-May) when soil temperatures reach 40 °F. Nymphs pass through seven instars (60-90 days) before reaching maturity and 10-14 days later mating occurs. Nymphs resemble adults in appearance but are smaller and lack wings. Adults feed throughout the growing season.

Although Mormon cricket outbreaks are common, populations tend to build up fairly slow and are easily predictable. Insect monitoring is necessary for a timely risk assessment and the development of effective control measures. More information on pest activity and risk areas can be found on the USDA APHIS official website (

For information on how to properly control these pests contact your local County Extension office. Dale Whaley is an extension specialist for Douglas County. He can be reached by email ( or by phone (509-754-8531).

Insect samples or pictures can be sent for proper identification to David Crowder, Associate Professor in the Department of Entomology at Washington State University ( and Ivan Milosavljević, Research Associate ( in the Department of Entomology at Washington State University.

For more information on Mormon crickets use these useful links:

Organic Case Studies Publication

The latest bulletin published by the Small Grains Team is PNW683 – Organic Small Grain Production in the Pacific Northwest: A Collection of Case Studies. The publication includes 12 case studies of organic grain farms that encompass three precipitation zones of the rainfed Inland Northwest, plus farms using full- and supplemental irrigation.

The farmers interviewed for the case studies discussed their philosophy for organic farming, methods of transition to organic production, crop rotation, soil fertility, seedbed preparation, plus weed and pest management. They also discussed marketing methods and techniques that had worked well (or not) on their farms. In addition, they offered tidbits of advice for farmers considering organic production.

As the case studies are comprised of individual’s experiences and opinions, they do not constitute formal recommendations by WSU Extension. Each case study does include complementary and pertinent information on the National Organic Rules and Certification.

PNW683 is available, free of charge. Go to the Organic Production button on the left side of the page, then click on Case Studies. The online version of the document includes hyperlinks to other sections or websites. These links are lost in the printed version.

If you encounter any problems with these links or when downloading files, please contact Blythe Howell at as this publication is unique in its size and complexity.

The case studies were authored by Louise Lorent, Associate in Research; Diana Roberts, PhD; and Ian Burke, PhD. Funds were provided by a grant from OREI (Organic Research and Extension Initiative) and a Hatch Project.

For questions regarding the case studies, contact Diana Roberts at

Washington State University