Crazy Trip Idea
Thread started by sexy
at 04.26.09 - 2:43 am
Mormon Cricket ride in Sparks or Tuscarora Nevada.
It might be a cool pilgrimage to go check out the attack of the Mormon Crickets and ride you desert bike through the plague.. Unfortunately I wouldn't most likely be able to make this. This would not be for the faint of heart, those with insect phobia.
I start a new subscrpition to the Wall Street Journal and forgot how much I love that paper. I know the devil of all Media owns it now. But from his game book history, he lets the paper do it thing as it always did for about two years and then he wrecks it. I figure its got a another year before it goes to hell. Maybe not, the opinion/editorial page has always been terrible. The articles are incredible and the dot matrix images even though used less is still cool.
a link if you can get on it with out a pass word
if not here is the article:
Against Insect Plague, Nevadans Wield Ultimate Weapon: Hard Rock
By JIM CARLTON
(See Corrections & Amplifications below.)
TUSCARORA, Nev. -- The residents of this tiny town, anticipating an imminent attack, will be ready with a perimeter defense. They'll position their best weapons at regular intervals, faced out toward the desert to repel the assault.
Then they'll turn up the volume.
Rock music blaring from boomboxes has proved one of the best defenses against an annual invasion of Mormon crickets. The huge flightless insects are a fearsome sight as they advance across the desert in armies of millions that march over, under or into anything in their way.
A Mormon cricket crosses a highway north of Sparks, Nev., in a recent spring. The 2-inch-long insects often carpet the arid landscape in the spring and summer, devouring vegetation and driving residents to distraction.
But the crickets don't much fancy Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones, the townspeople figured out three years ago. So next month, Tuscarorans are preparing once again to get out their extension cords, array their stereos in a quarter-circle and tune them to rock station KHIX, full blast, from dawn to dusk. "It is part of our arsenal," says Laura Moore, an unemployed college professor and one of the town's 13 residents.
In flyspeck villages like Tuscarora, crickets are a serious matter. The critters hatch in April in the barren soil of northern Nevada, western Utah and other parts of the Great Basin, quickly growing into blood-red, ravenous insects more than 2 inches long.
Then they march. In columns that in peak years can be two miles long and a mile across, swarms move across the badlands in search of food. Starting in about May, they march through August or so, before stopping to lay eggs for next year and die.
In between, they make an awful mess. They destroy crops and lots of the other leafy vegetation. They crawl all over houses, and some get inside. "You'll wake up and there'll be one sitting on your forehead, looking at you," says Ms. Moore.
They swarm on roads, where cars turn them into slicks that can cause accidents. So many dead ones piled up on a highway last year that Elko County, Nev., called in snowplows to scrape them off.
Squashed and dying crickets give off a sickening smell. "For us, it's mostly the yuck factor," says Ron Arthaud, a painter here.
Many springs, the infestation is negligible. But every few years, far bigger swarms hatch. From 2003 to 2006, armies of crickets went forth. They smothered the county seat, Elko, causing pandemonium as residents fled indoors. Realtor Jim Winer couldn't, because he had to show homes. "I carried a little broom in my car," he says, "and when I got out, I would sweep a path through the bugs to the house."
Every half-century or so, plaguelike numbers hatch. The critters got their name in the 19th century after a throng of them ravaged the crops of a Mormon settlement. But "I don't think they care about Mormons or Baptists," says Lynn Forsberg, who runs Elko County's public-works program. "I don't think they care about anything."
Including one another. Mormon crickets are programmed to march. Any cricket that falls by the wayside is eaten by others, ensuring that at least some cross the hot, barren stretches well-fed.
Following an unseasonably warm winter, some in Elko County fear a big crop this year of Mormon crickets, known more precisely as shield-backed katydids, or Anabrus simplex. State entomologist Jeff Knight is using computer models to document when the crickets will hatch, and "once they have hatched, we will start going in and mapping where all the crickets are," he says.
Towns in their path aren't waiting to find out. Elko County officials have stored tons of poison bait, which they'll soon start handing out. Placed properly, it can help. In 2003, which was a bad year, residents organized a bucket brigade to lay poison bait in the countryside, luring many bugs to their doom.
But last year Diana Bunitsky sprinkled the bait too close -- right outside the rural diner she runs, Lone Mountain Station -- and crickets swarmed onto her property to gobble it. Ms. Bunitsky ran outside and sprayed them with a garden hose, "but when I looked back, they had gone around and were all over my walls," she says.
Some people use chalk dust to try to smother crickets. Lori Roa, a job counselor in Elko, swears by Lemon Joy. She sprinkles the detergent over her shrubbery. In Jarbidge, Nev., Rey Nystrom, proprietor of the Jarbidge Trading Post, says a neighbor uses a squirt bottle loaded with soapy water. "But you're squirting one at a time, so it's spitting against the wind, so to speak," he says.
Here in Tuscarora, signs are worrisome this spring. Numerous cricket nymphs in the sandy soil are beginning to wiggle, says Elaine Parks, a local artist.
Tuscarora began as a gold-mining town in the late 19th century, and by 1878 had a population of 5,000. But the ore mostly petered out by 1900, and the town has been dwindling ever since, to its current size of just over a dozen. ("But in summer we get up to 20," says postmaster Julie Parks.)
There are hints the community has mixed feelings toward its crickets. The town sports a giant sculpture of a Morman cricket, made out of chicken wire, burlap and glue. For the Fourth of July parade last year, three women dressed up as "cricket witches."
But when a throng of crickets began to advance ominously on Tuscarora in the spring of 2006, Ms. Parks, the artist, dug up a 1934 article in the Elko Free Press about a woman who had used a Chinese gong to drive them away. That led to the modern adaptation of a boombox perimeter.
"Crickets kind of sleep at night, so I would wake up first thing in the morning to get the music on and we would shut the music off at night," Ms. Moore says. Townsfolk cranked up the volume throughout the daylight hours for several days in a row.
"The theory was they'd hate heavy metal," Ms. Parks says. Indeed, locals report, in 2006, at least, many of the bugs stopped in their tracks. Says Mr. Knight, the entomologist: "The vibrations may deter the bugs, but I don't know of any research that says yes or no."
Some of the following year's crickets had hipper tastes, waltzing in to lay their eggs, as many as 100 apiece. In 2008, these eggs hatched right in the middle of Tuscarora. "They were crawling all over the side of the houses and three deep in the yard eating each other," Ms. Moore says.
The nymphs now wriggling in the dry soil near homes are too close to people for poison bait, although residents will probably try some when the hatchlings start to move about.
To fend off the armies marching in from outside, Tuscarora is ready to deploy the boombox defense again. "We'll have to come up with a playlist for the crickets," Ms. Parks says.
They have a fallback strategy, to make even more noise if rock music isn't enough: The townsfolk plan to crank up their lawn mowers and Weed Whackers.