Overview

Brief Summary

The common name of Anabrus simplex (Mormon cricket) implies that this insect is in the cricket family Gryllidae, but it is actually a shieldbacked katydid from the family Tettigoniidae.  Mormon crickets are large, flightless natives to western North American grasslands. Despite their flightlessness, these insects are highly mobile and the nymph stages can migrate extensively in large bands in search of food. They have diverse eating habits and are known to eat more than 400 different kinds of plants but are most partial to certain succulent forbs including milkvetches, penstemon, arrowleaf balsamroot, dandelion, and also favor cultivated crops such as wheat, barley, alfalfa, sweetclover, and garden vegetables. Although their populations are usually small and controlled they periodically build up into outbreak densities during which time they migrate to find food in croplands where they are a serious agricultural pest, able to quickly destroy a crop as they pass through. Mormon crickets caused extensive damage over 11 western states in a 17-year outbreak that started in 1931. There is evidence dating from 222 BC that native Americans harvested, roasted and ate these insects in large numbers during outbreaks. (Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station 1994; Wikipedia 2011)

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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Physical Description

Type Information

Lectotype for Anabrus simplex maculatus Caudell, 1907
Catalog Number: USNM
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Entomology
Sex/Stage: Male;
Preparation: Riker Mount
Year Collected: 1882
Locality: Ft. Walsh; Br. Amer., Unknown, Canada
  • Lectotype: 1907. Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 32 (1530): 356.
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Type for Anabrus simplex nigra Caudell
Catalog Number: USNM
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Entomology
Sex/Stage: Male;
Preparation: Riker Mount
Year Collected: 1893
Locality: Blue Lake; Idaho, Idaho, United States
  • Type:
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Type for Anabrus coloradus Thomas
Catalog Number: USNM
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Entomology
Sex/Stage: Female;
Preparation: Riker Mount
Locality: Col. Terr., Colorado, United States
  • Type:
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Allotype for Anabrus simplex nigra Caudell
Catalog Number: USNM
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Entomology
Sex/Stage: Female;
Preparation: Riker Mount
Year Collected: 1893
Locality: Blue Lake; Idaho, Idaho, United States
  • Allotype:
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Allotype for Anabrus simplex maculatus Caudell, 1907
Catalog Number: USNM
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Entomology
Sex/Stage: Female;
Preparation: Riker Mount
Year Collected: 1882
Locality: Ft. Walsh; Br. Amer., Unknown, Canada
  • Allotype: 1907. Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 32 (1530): 356.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Anabrus simplex

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 4 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

CAACAATGACTTTTTTCAACTAATCATAAGGACATTGGAACATTATACTTCATTTTTGGTGCCTGAGCAGGAATGGTAGGTACATCTCTC---AGCTTATTAATCCGCGCAGAATTAGGACAACCAGGTTATTTAATTGGTGAT---GATCAAATTTATAATGTAATCGTCACTGCTCACGCATTTGTAATAATTTTCTTCATAGTAATGCCCATCATAATTGGGGGATTTGGAAATTGATTAGTTCCTCTTATA---CTTGGAGCCCCTGATATAGCCTTCCCTCGAATAAACAATATAAGTTTCTGATTACTTCCTCCTTCACTTGTCCTATTACTTAGAAGTAGTTTAGTGGAAAGCGGTGCAGGTACTGGTTGAACAGTCTACCCTCCCCTTTCTTCAGGAATTGCACACGCTGGTGCTTCTGTTGACTTA---GCAATTTTCTCTCTTCATTTAGCAGGGGTATCATCAATTCTCGGGGCCGTTAATTTTATTACCACAACTATTAATATGCGAGCCCCTGGGATATCACTAGACCAAACACCTTTATTTGTATGAGCTGTAGCAATTACCGCTCTTCTCCTCCTCCTATCCTTACCTGTTTTAGCAGGT---GCTATTACTATATTACTTACTGACCGAAATCTTAATACCTCTTTCTTTGATCCTGCGGGTGGGGGAGATCCAATTCTCTATCAACACCTATTTTGATTCTTCGGTCACCCTGAAGTCTATATTTTAATTCTCCCAGGATTTGGTATGGTCTCTCATATTATTAGTCAAGAAAGAGGGAAAAAG---GAAGCATTTGGTACTTTAGGAATAATCTACGCAATAATAGCAATTGGGCTCCTCGGGTTCGTCGTCTGGGCACACCATATATTTACTGTAGGAATAGATGTAGACACACGGGCTTATTTCACATCCGCCACTATAATTATTGCTGTTCCTACAGGAATTAAAATTTTTAGCTGATTA---GCTACA
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Anabrus simplex

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 67
Specimens with Barcodes: 67
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Wikipedia

Mormon cricket

The Mormon cricket (Anabrus simplex) is a large insect that can grow to almost 8 cm (3 inches) in length. It lives throughout western North America in rangelands dominated by sagebrush and forbs.

Despite its name, the Mormon cricket is actually a shieldbacked katydid, not a cricket. It takes its name from Mormon settlers in Utah, who encountered them while pushing westward, and for the prominent role they play in the miracle of the gulls.[1]

Although flightless, the Mormon cricket is capable of traveling up to two kilometers a day[2] in its swarming phase, during which it is a serious agricultural pest and traffic hazard.

Description[edit]

Mormon crickets have variable coloration. The overall color may be black, brown, red, purple or green. The "shield" (pronotum or modified prothorax that covers vestigial wings) behind the head may have colored markings. The abdomen may appear to be striped. Females have a long ovipositor, which should not be mistaken for a stinger. Both sexes have long antennae.

Mormon crickets may undergo morphological changes triggered by high population densities, similar to those seen in locusts. The most noticeable change is in coloration: solitary individuals typically have green or purple coloration, while swarming individuals are often black, brown or red.

Life cycle[edit]

Utah, October 2005

Mormon cricket eggs hatch mostly in the spring after they are laid, although in some areas eggs may take as many as five years to hatch. Hatching begins when soil temperatures reach 4 °C (40 °F). The nymphs pass through seven instars before reaching the adult stage, typically taking 60 to 90 days.

Breeding begins within 10 to 14 days of reaching the adult stage. The male passes to the female a large spermatophore which can be up to 27% of his body weight. The spermatophore is mostly food for the female to consume but also contains sperm to fertilize her eggs. This nuptial gift causes swarming-phase females to compete for males, a behavior not seen in solitary-phase females.

The female lays her eggs by thrusting her ovipositor deep into the soil Each female can lay over one hundred eggs, with individual eggs having the appearance of a grain of rice with a gray to purplish color.

Swarming[edit]

Nevada, summer 2006

The Mormon cricket exists in populations of relatively low density throughout most of its range. At certain times and places, however, population explosions or infestations occur in which large numbers of the crickets form roving bands. These bands may include millions of individuals and be found with densities of up to 100 individuals per square meter. These infestations may last years or even decades, and are characterized by a gradual increase and then decrease in population. The factors that trigger these infestations are poorly understood, but are thought to be weather-related.

Research published in 2006 shows that Mormon crickets move in these migratory bands, firstly to find new sources of the critical nutrients of protein and salt, and secondly to avoid being eaten by hungry crickets approaching from the rear. The Mormon cricket's cannibalistic behavior may lead to swarm behavior because crickets may need to move constantly forward to avoid attacks from behind.[3][4]

When a large band crosses a road, it can become a safety hazard by causing distracted revulsion on the part of the driver, and by causing the road surface to become slick with crushed crickets. The crickets also can cause devastation to agriculture.[1]

Diet[edit]

The Mormon cricket shows a marked preference for forbs, but grasses and shrubs such as sagebrush are also consumed.[5] Mormon crickets also eat insects, including other Mormon crickets (especially individuals that have been killed or injured by automobiles or insecticides). Cannibalistic behavior may be a result of protein and salt deficiency; swarming behavior may in turn be a strategy to avoid predation by other Mormon crickets.[3]

During an infestation Mormon crickets can cause significant damage to crops and gardens.

Control[edit]

Multicolored swarm in Nevada, 2002.

Mormon crickets are preyed upon by a wide variety of birds and mammals. These predators include California Gulls, crows, coyotes and various rodents. There are no predators that specialize on Mormon crickets, which may be explained by the cricket's migratory habits and large population fluctuations. Gordius robustus, a species of horsehair worm, is a parasite of the Mormon cricket,[6] as is Ooencyrtus anabrivorus.[7]

The most common chemical control method used is carbaryl (typically sold as "Sevin") bait. This bait kills both the Mormon crickets that eat the bait, and the crickets that eat crickets that eat the bait. Insecticides applied directly to crops may kill the insects, but due to the large size of swarms, this method usually does not save the crop from being destroyed.

As Mormon crickets are flightless, physical barriers may be effective. Barriers should be at least two feet high and made of a smooth material. Recently, residents of some small towns have been effectively using boom boxes and sound systems playing hard rock music to divert the moving swarms away from crops and houses. Music seems to deter the insects, although it is unknown whether the result is due to the music or the heavy vibrations.[8]

Another method for the control of Mormon crickets is the use of a biopesticide based on the protozoan Nosema locustae. N. locustae is a naturally-occurring microbe the spores of which kill orthopterans by interfering with the digestive system. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, its use has no adverse effect on humans or the environment.[9]

Historical[edit]

Mormon crickets appear in some traditional Native American diets.[10][11]

In 2003, officials in Utah, Idaho and Nevada said that year's infestation might be the worst in recent history.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Graham, Judith (June 16, 2003). "Jiminy! West overrun by Mormon crickets". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 31, 2013. 
  2. ^ Lorch, Patrick D.; Sword, Gregory A.; Gwynne, Darryl T.; Anderson, Gerald L. (October 1, 2005). "Radiotelemetry reveals differences in individual movement patterns between outbreak and non-outbreak Mormon cricket populations". Ecological Entomology 30 (5): 548–555. doi:10.1111/j.0307-6946.2005.00725.x. Retrieved March 31, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Simpson, S.J.; Sword, G.A.; Lorch, P.D.; Couzin, I.D. (March 14, 2006). "Cannibal crickets on a forced march for protein and salt". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103 (11): 4152–4156. doi:10.1073/pnas.0508915103. 
  4. ^ Sword, Gregory. "Mormon Cricket Ecology and Evolution". University of Sydney, School of Biological Sciences. Retrieved March 31, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Mormon Cricket Anabrus simplex Haldeman". Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 912. September 1994. Retrieved 4 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Hanelt, Ben; Janovy Jr, John (February 1999). "The Lifecycle of a Horsehair Worm: Gordius robustus (Nematomorpha: Gordioidea)". The Journal of Parasitology 85 (1): 139–141. JSTOR 3285720. 
  7. ^ Gahan, A.B. (1942). "Descriptions of five new species of Chalcidoidea, with notes on a few described species (Hymenoptera)". Proceedings of the United States National Museum 92 (3137): 41–51. doi:10.5479/si.00963801.92-3137.41. Retrieved 4 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Carlton, Jim (April 24, 2009). "Against Insect Plague, Nevadans Wield Ultimate Weapon: Hard Rock". The Wall Street Journal. 
  9. ^ "Nosema Locustae (117001) Fact Sheet". U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. October 2000. Retrieved 2013-08-30. 
  10. ^ Olmsted, D.L.; Stewart, Omer C. (1978). "Achumawi". In Sturtevant, William C. Handbook of North American Indians: California. Washington, DC: US Govt Printing Office. p. 228. 
  11. ^ Kerns, Virginia (2010). Journeys West: Jane and Julian Steward and their Guides. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 280–281. ISBN 978-0-8032-2508-4. 
  12. ^ Nelson, James (June 14, 2003). "Mormon Crickets Devour Crops, Turn Roads 'Blood Red'". Reuters. 
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Notes

Mormon Cricket (Anabrus simplex)

References: Defoliart et al. 1982; Finke et al. 1985; Gwynne 1981, 1984, 1993; La Rivers 1944; Lorch & Gwynne 2000; MacVean 1987; Redak et al. 1992; Tyus & Minckley 1988.

  • Defoliart GR, Finke MD, Sunde ML. 1982. Potential value of the Mormon cricket (Anabrus simplex) (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae) harvested as a high-protein feed for poultry. J. Econ. Entomol. 75: 848-852.
  • Finke MD, Sunde ML, Defoliart GR. 1985. An evaluation of the protein quality of Mormon crickets (Anabrus simplex) when used as a high protein feedstuff for poultry. Poult. Sci. 64: 708-712.
  • Gwynne DT. 1981. Sexual difference theory: Mormon crickets (Anabrus simplex) show role reversal in mate choice. Science 213: 779-780.
  • Lorch PD, Gwynne DT. 2000. Radio-telemetric evidence of migration in the gregarious but not the solitary morph of the Mormon cricket (Anabrus simplex: Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae). Naturwissenschaften 87: 370-372.
  • MacVean CM. 1987. Ecology and management of Mormon cricket, Anabrus simplex Haldeman. In: Capinera JL, editor. Integrated pest management on rangeland. Boulder CO: Westview. p 116-136.
  • Redak RA, Capinera JL, Bonham CD. 1992. Effects of sagebrush removal and herbivory by Mormon crickets (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae) on understory plant biomass and cover. Environ. Entomol. 21: 94-102.
  • Gwynne DT. 1984. Sexual selection and sexual differences in Mormon crickets (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae, Anabrus simplex). Evolution 38: 1011-1022.
  • Gwynne DT. 1993. Food quality controls sexual selection in Mormon crickets by altering male mating investment. Ecology 74: 1406-1413.
  • La Rivers I. 1944. A summary of the Mormon cricket (Anabrus simplex) (Tettigoniidae: Orthoptera). Entomol. News 55: 71-77, 97-102.
  • Tyus HM, Minckley WL. 1988. Migrating Mormon crickets, Anabrus simplex (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae), as food for stream fishes. Great Basin Nat. 48: 25-30.
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