Mormon Crickets cover the side of a building on Melarkey Street.
Mormon Crickets cover the side of a building on Melarkey Street.
Guess who’s back, back again? Mormon Crickets are back and they’ve brought all their friends.

Take a drive down Melarkey Street toward Highway 95 and you will encounter them in droves. Mormon crickets can be spotted on the roadways, sidewalks, and even covering buildings. It’s a sight that is common for Winnemucca this time of year but is nonetheless shocking.

According to city officials, ground zero for cricket control is the mountains. Once they reach the city, pest control options are limited.

The city has a contract with Ron Seed & Supply to establish a baiting parameter on the outskirts of Winnemucca in hopes that it will deter crickets from moving into residential and business areas. 

Unfortunately, when the baiting treatment was set to begin the weekend of May 22 a storm hit town and halted the efforts. The chemical used for the treatments is water soluble, so continuing to apply the bait in the midst of the rain would have rendered it ineffective. 

On the east side of the city, the parameter will extend from the Winnemucca Boulevard intersection and proceed south to the water tank near Water Canyon Road. From there, the perimeter will proceed east approximately 2 miles then turn south to the Pershing County line. 

On the west side, bait will be set from the Wastewater Treatment Plant, roughly parallel to Jungo Road. It will then head north toward Red Shephard’s home, turn east toward Sage Heights, north toward Highway 95 and end near Reinhart Lane.

According to City Manager/Engineer, Alicia Heiser, the baiting resumed last week. City efforts will also coincide with baiting efforts being put in place by the state of Nevada. In addition, State Entomologist Jeff Knight informed widespread aerial treatments were scheduled to begin May 26 through May 28.

“That’s really what is needed,” Heiser said. “Even with the city and the county’s effort to put down bait to protect certain areas, it really doesn’t kill the masses that live in the mountains. We can kind of prevent them from getting to certain areas but we’re not actually doing anything as far as population control. So, this aerial treatment is really what’s needed.”

In the meantime, the city has increased rotations of street sweepers to decrease the amount of cricket carcasses that are found on the roads. As individuals choose to bait their homes, sweepers are used to clean up the crickets and decrease other swarms from being attracted to those areas. 

“We can’t really bait in the city proper, not on the streets or at peoples’ houses. But, we can run the street sweepers and do what we can in the vacant land areas.” Heiser said.

Treatment of vacant land areas will be completed based upon a Memorandum of Understanding between BLM, United States Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Inspection Service (USDA APHIS), Humboldt County, and the city of Winnemucca.

According to the MOU, the BLM, City of Winnemucca, or Humboldt County, may treat or contract to treat Mormon Cricket populations on BLM managed lands so long as all of the following conditions are met:

•Treatment location(s), chemical(s), rate(s), and timeframe are approved in advance by the BLM.

• A Pesticide Use Proposal (PUP) is approved by the BLM prior to application of chemical

• The pesticide applicator is licensed by the State of Nevada to apply terrestrial invertebrate pesticide

• All treatments adhere to the Environmental Protection Measures (EPMs) outlined in the Memorandum.

City officials emphasized that treatment of vacant BLM areas is the most crucial part of cricket population control and are hopeful the combination of efforts by the city, county, state, and BLM will prove to be successful in decreasing the effect crickets have on local lands.