A Section of Nevada Is Basically Just Gross Right Now

Thanks to the invasion of foul-smelling Mormon crickets
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2023 12:05 PM CDT

Elko, Nevada, is home to about 20,000 people—and, currently, millions of Mormon crickets. It's a migratory population so overwhelming that Department of Transportation crews have been using plows to clear the roads of the insects' squashed bodies. A DOT tweet last week had photos of the guts-slicked roads, with a warning to "TAKE IT SLOW." And plug your nose, perhaps: The New York Times reports the carcasses smell "like fish or dog feces." The insects—not truly crickets, but katydids—apparently aren't put off by the odor. NBC News reports that in addition to eating landscaping and crops, the cannibalistic bugs dine on other Mormon cricket carcasses.

As for why now, the University of Nevada-Reno explains "drought encourages Mormon cricket outbreaks, which may last several years (historically 5 to 21 years)"; the Idaho Statesman reports the populations "surge every 15 to 20 years." Terror surges, too. Some of the more colorful anecdotes about the experience of locals in Elko and surrounding towns:

  • Staff at the Shilo Inns Elko tell the Times they've turned pressure washers on the bugs and dumped a steaming mix of water, vinegar, bleach, and dish soap on them.
  • NBC News flags a viral TikTok video in which a homeowner shows her bug-covered house and says, "This has literally been the worst day of my life. Well, maybe not the worst, but it's definitely by far the most disgusting." She says her husband has been trying to use a leaf blower on them but hasn't been able to keep them at bay.

  • A rep for Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital tells KSL that "just to get patients into the hospital we had people out there with leaf blowers, with brooms, at one point we even had a tractor with a snowplow on it just to push the piles of crickets and move them on their way."
  • "They're just gross," is how Elko resident Precious Drake puts it to KSL. "They look like spiders, and they poop everywhere."
(More infestation stories.)

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