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Mormon Cricket (Anabrus simplex)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Mormon Cricket.

 Updated: 3/27/2019; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




The flightless Mormon Cricket threatened early western pioneers and can still devastate modern food crops.



In 1848, this insect nearly wiped out all the crops planted by Mormon farmers trying to settle in Utah. It has been called a Mormon Cricket ever since. It prefers grasses and sage brush, but will eat a variety of other plants, too, including wheat and corn. It also hangs out at where forests open up into fields in addition to cultivated agricultural areas and pasture lands. While this species does eat plant matter, sometimes it resorts to cannibalism when plant foods are scarce.

Adult Mormon Crickets chirp at regular intervals. They can travel in swarms and have dark gray or black coloring. Individuals may remain in one local area and have a green or tan color. They do not have wings, so they cannot fly, but they can walk and jump. Females have a curved ovipositor that looks like a thick tail, or stinger. It is neither. The ovipositor is more like a syringe that pushes into the dirt, allowing females to inject eggs just under the soil's surface. The eggs overwinter there, sometimes for years until conditions feel favorable. Small nymphs emerge in springtime, just when plants are starting to grow.
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Orthoptera
        Family: Tettigoniidae
          Genus: Anabrus
            Species: simplex
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Anabrus simplex
Category: Grasshopper or Cricket
Size (Adult; Length): 25mm to 60mm (0.98in to 2.34in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; black; yellow; green
Descriptors: jumping, chirping, curved
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
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Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.