Salem, Ore. • Residents of a north-central Oregon town are working together to prevent cricket-like insects from invading their houses and streets and devouring their crops like last year.
April Aamodt remembers hearing hordes of hissing, cannibalistic Mormon crickets when they began taking over the small town of Arlington last year.
“It was awful,” Aamodt said. “My land was infested with thousands of them. I was working from 5:30 in the morning to 9 at night trying to kill crickets.”
Mormon crickets are not actually crickets, but flightless members of the katydid family, closely related to grasshoppers and crickets, the Capital Press reported Thursday.
This year, Arlington residents are using Google Maps to report Mormon cricket sightings directly from their smartphones.
By mapping hot spots for the insects, they can make the best use of their limited resources, Jordan Maley said, the Oregon State University Extension agent for Gilliam County.
The Oregon State University Extension and the Oregon Department of Agriculture are helping the town residents with the effort.
The county has agreed to pay $105,000 for an aerial applicator that will spray a pesticide called Dimilin outside city limits that targets younger, smaller crickets and inhibits their growth.
Farmer Charlie Anderson sprayed the pesticide around his property in late April and said it appears to be working so far.
“Those crickets are gone,” Anderson said. “There’s not a sign of them.”
Since Dimilin only works on young Mormon crickets, Marley said they will follow up with Sevin bait, donated by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, to kill the oncoming swarm.
In town, residents are using Tempo, a general-use insecticide that is considered safe to use around children and pets.
The city of Arlington and Gilliam County are also looking into bringing a herd of goats to eat overgrown grass on steep, tricky hillsides where crickets might hide.
Although they are not sure whether their efforts will completely successful this year, Maley said he thinks they are on the right track.