‘Biblical’ Grasshopper Swarms Threaten Crops Across Oregon

Massive swarms of Mormon crickets have been plaguing the state of Oregon, prompting authorities and conservationists alike to grow concerned.

The Associated Press reports that the state faced a harsh outbreak of the pests in 2020, followed by a worse outbreak in 2021.

The Mormon crickets don’t seem to be slowing down and it’s unlikely they will large-scale intervention.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Despite what their name suggests, Mormon crickets are neither Mormons nor crickets. They’re actually shield-backed katydid, according to Britannica.

While they may look somewhat harmless, they wreak havoc on food crops. In 2017, the U.S. faced the worst outbreak of Mormon crickets since the 1940s when they struck in Arlington. Local media reports referred to the swarms as “truly biblical.”

Photo: Wikipedia/katie madonia

Now, Oregon is facing the wrath of the insect plague, with an estimated 10 million acres of rangeland across 18 different counties reportedly suffering from damage due to the pests. The Associated Press reports that Oregon spent $5 million trying to suppress Mormon cricket populations, along with grasshoppers, and an additional $1.2 million was recently approved.

While climate change is harming many insect populations, it’s actually helping Mormon crickets thrive! In the Oregon area, climate change is resulting in drought-stricken areas that lack vegetation, which is something most insects couldn’t live through – but Mormon crickets are different.

Photo: flickr/Andrey Zharkikh

According to IFLScience, experts believe Mormon crickets and other pests will continue to decimate food crops in the United States if changes aren’t made to both keep the insect populations under better control and also combat climate change.

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