This week, millions of Mormon crickets invaded the town of Elko Nevada, a city of about 20,000 residents in northeastern Nevada. The swarm was so dense that the Department of Transportation had to plow crickets from area highways because they make for slick driving conditions.
Colette and Mike Reynolds woke up on Sunday to find their house literally covered with bugs. They tried killing the crickets with a pressure washer but the dead bugs were quickly consumed by ensuing waves of infestation. They called an exterminator but he admitted that there was nothing he could do. Several dozen crickets even found a way into their home, adding to the nightmare.
“Everybody’s like, ‘this is apocalyptic,” Colette told the New York Post. “It feels Biblical.’. And I have to agree.”
The crickets have attracted birds which are their natural predators.
“We’ve had hundreds of big crows and hawks and it’s pretty eerie feeling. It is an invading, disheartening feeling. You just feel hopeless. You feel violated. You feel isolated. I am so tired of seeing these things. You can’t eat because everything you look at just looks like crickets,” she said.
Mormon Crickets are native to western North America in rangelands dominated by sagebrush. They have a four- to six-year cycle and then go dormant for a few years. The last dormant period ended in 2019 so the current swarm is not entirely unexpected. Although flightless, the Mormon cricket may travel up to two kilometers a day in its swarming phase, during which it may be a serious agricultural pest and sometimes a traffic hazard. The Mormon cricket’s cannibalistic behavior may lead to swarm behavior because crickets may need to move constantly forward to avoid attacks from behind.The crickets can cause devastation to agriculture.
The Mormon cricket takes its common name from the prominent role it played in the “Miracle of the Gulls” in 1848 credited by Latter-day Saints for saving the Mormon pioneers’ second harvest in the Salt Lake Valley. According to Mormon legend, thousands of insects were devouring the crucial second harvest of the newly established community of 4,000 mormons. Seagulls miraculously appeared following fervent prayers by the pioneer farmers, saving the crops by eating the insects.
For the Biblically inclined, swarms of crickets evoke images of the plague of locusts that hit pre-Exodus Egypt.
They covered the face of the whole land, so that the land was darkened, and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt. (Exodus 10:15)
According to Jewish tradition, the ten-plagues will reappear before the Messiah as hinted by the Prophet Micah.
Jewish sources predict that all of the plagues will reappear in the final Redemption but in even more powerful forms. It is written in Midrash Tanchuma, homiletic teachings collected around the fifth century, that “just as God struck the Egyptians with 10 plagues, so too He will strike the enemies of the Jewish people at the time of the Redemption.”
This concept was explained by Rabbi Bahya ben Asher, a 13th-century Spanish commentator, who wrote, “In Egypt, God used only part of His strength. When the final redemption comes, God will show much, much more of His power.”