Millions of Mormon crickets have arrived in Elko, Nev., the thin, coppery creatures that cover parts of the city, so staff members at Shilo Inns Elko discussed ways to combat them on Saturday.
Hotel workers poured a hot water mixture of vinegar, bleach and dish soap.
They even turned pressure washers on the brown clusters of exoskeletons. However, the nervous bugs kept coming.
Finally, Kimmy Hall, general manager of Shilo Inns, told her overwhelmed staff, “We can’t win against them. But we can keep them at bay. »
Such was the atmosphere in Elko, a town of about 20,000, infested with Mormon crickets, which have recently hatched and are migrating.
Although the crickets have moved into the area, about 300 miles northeast of Reno, for some years now millions have been popping up through densely populated neighborhoods and high-traffic streets this month. As vehicles pass over the bodies of the crickets, which break apart as easily as potato chips, their innards spill out.
The more crickets are run over, the thicker the layers build up on the road, leaving a viscous, clay-colored mixture that can create slippery driving conditions, the Nevada Department of Transportation has warned. on Twitter.
The number and prevalence of crickets on the road is so widespread that the department is using plows to remove the slimy brown remains.
mormon crickets, which are actually not crickets but katydids with shields, are ground-dwelling insects native to the western United States. They feed on grasses, shrubs and crops, which can contribute to soil erosion and nutrient depleted soils, according to the University of Nevada, Reno.
The Southwest is experiencing a severe drought, which the university says « encourages Mormon cricket epidemics » that can last anywhere from five to 21 years and « cause substantial economic losses to pastures, croplands and home gardens » .
The name Mormon crickets comes from the way the insects allegedly invaded the crops of Mormon settlers in Utah’s Great Salt Lake area in the mid-1800s, according to Washington State University. The males chirp like other crickets, « hence the erroneous common name, » the university said.
Since the 1990s, the Mormon cricket population has been on the rise, particularly in Nevada, said the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2006, Mormon crickets infested about 10 million acres in the state.
The crickets — which are about two inches long and have plump bodies — are turning beige brick homes, front lawns, and sidewalks a darker shade of rust. They don’t bite but induce squeamishness, especially among some new residents.
« It was insane, » said Charles Carmichael, the owner of Battle Born Pest Control. “He was wild. I haven’t sprayed this many houses for crickets in a long, long time.
In stuccoed suburban homes, he’s seen Mormon crickets crawling along the outside walls, moving like aliens in a retro arcade game.
The crickets devoured gardens, entered houses and somehow made their way into people’s rucksacks and hair, causing screams, Mr Carmichael said.
He has limited weapons at his disposal. Many chemical deterrents don’t work. The best he can do is place smooth plastic fencing around gardens because crickets cannot climb smooth surfaces.
However, as Ms. Hall of the Shilo Inns is well aware, killing crickets can lead to foul-smelling results: the remains smell like fish or dog feces.
« Just disgusting, » Ms Hall said.
Chris Gomez, the store manager of Big 5 Sporting Goods in Elko, said Mormon crickets have covered the store’s sidewalk and entrance for the past few days. Most customers « hang in » and run inside, he said. But not all.
« We made a couple of little kids cry when they tried to get in, » said Mr. Gomez. « You know, they’re a little scared. »