If you suffer from Bug-a-phobia disorders then you might want to skip over this article! My wife suffers from it to the extreme level and wouldn’t even get out of the truck while I was gathering the material to write this article. I’ve been traveling a lot lately and have only been home three days in the last 32 days. So it was nice to be home this last week.
I submitted an article last week for this week but Saturday Katy and I were driving down towards Jordan Valley and saw the annual Mormon Cricket migration and I bumped this article ahead of the previously designated one.
Here’s why I say the above paragraph. In the original article I told how I’d flown home and my daughter had gotten married. Due to that we had quite a few relatives fly in. You may have become complacent as an Idahoan and forgot how much cool stuff goes on here. So with that said, if you have relatives visiting at the moment you ought to run down and show them the Mormon Cricket invasion. Or maybe you’re new to Idaho and never seen it before yourself.
I hate to call it a banner year but I guess from a cricket perspective that’s what you’d call it. Some years I don’t see mass amounts of them and other years I do but I guess according to weather conditions it fluctuates. I remember one year on Memorial weekend we were going up to Paddy Flat to camp. Right before we got to Horseshoe Bend there were a million trillion crickets crossing the road. That was the first big swarm of them I’d ever seen.
There were so many crossing the road that they had up a flashing “SLICK ROAD AHEAD” warning set-up. The road had a slick mahogany colored covering due to all of the smushed crickets. It was like driving on an oil slick. When you drive over them it sounds like popcorn was popping.
Years later I was fly fishing the stonefly hatch behind Anderson Ranch dam and there’d been so many crickets migrating that the swirl pools and back eddies in the river were 1-inch deep in dead crickets. There were so many dead ones that there was a stink in the air.
This year is not a total banner year but still, there are a lot of them out right now so if you’ve never seen them, you ought to take a drive down towards Jordan Valley. I didn’t notice the exact mile marker but it’s about halfway down to Jordan Valley where the concrete barriers are on the left side of the road. They are swarming over the barriers thick as a herd of ants.
I always have to stop and take a few pics and observe them whenever I see them. Yesterday I noticed a few dragging dead ones that had been run over. I don’t know why they didn’t just eat them right there? Maybe they were dragging them home to feed the family for a July 4th reunion? I also observed a live one and there was a cricket on each end of him trying to eat him. Maybe that’s why they keep moving? If they stop someone will eat them!
MORMON CRICKET FACTS
They are not actually a cricket but are a katydid or a grasshopper.
They can’t fly but do walk and can climb things.
They can cover about 1-mile/day.
They thrive out in the Southwestern Idaho area.
It seems they move in the Spring.
Their numbers are cyclical. There may be a lot this year and then next year you don’t see many.
It is said that they can get up to 3-inches long.
If you’ve never seen the Mormon Cricket migration before, you ought to check out the on-line version of this article. I’m going to send Jeanne a couple of short reels showing some of them on their migration. It will amaze you how thick they are and like I said above, this isn’t even a banner year.
If you have a free hour, you ought to run down and see this weird phenomenon. I’ve never documented how long it last but it’s not too long so you probably better hurry and see if you can make it down to observe them this year.
Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.