This bug is creeping around your property. He may be friend or foe.

Name: Anabrus simplex

Alias: Mormon cricket. This alias is, of course, a false claim. They aren’t a cricket at all, instead they are a type of Katydid. They aren’t Mormon either (that is to say, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) They can grow up to 3 inches in length, and the females have a long ovipositor that is often confused for a stinger. These unnecessarily large insects tend to come in droves of an exploding population when the conditions are optimal. Females lay their eggs deep in the ground, where they overwinter and emerge in the spring.

Crimes: They are not picky eaters. They will eat grass, forbs, shrubs, crops, insects, dead animals and even each other. On average, a single insect will consume 7 pounds of dry weight in its lifetime. That may not seem like much, but they come in swarms of millions, eating everything they can get their mouths on. Often they can be so dense that cars have slid off the road due to smeared bug guts.

Redeming Qualities: Native Americans included them in their diets. Although no modern commercial-scale applications have been applied, they are a very rich protein source. They could prove to be a great renewable source of food for humans or poultry.

Sentence: Seagulls are the gold standard for Mormon cricket control. If your local farm and garden shop is out of seagulls, you can choose from a number of baits that are labeled for use on Mormon crickets. It is best applied in the spring before the juveniles emerge. Multiple applications may be necessary when infestations are severe.

For more information on dangerous and beneficial bugs, call UI Extension educator Joseph Sagers at 208-270-4031 or email jsagers@uidaho.edu.