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Mormon Cricket (Anabrus simplex)

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

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Image Credit: Jeremiah D. Sr. in Yellowstone N.P., MT
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Image Credit: Michael C. taken in Aspen, CO
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Image Credit: Kathy B. from Great Falls, MT
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Image Credit: Joe F. from ID
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Image Credit: Kathy B. from Great Falls, MT
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Image Credit: Jim M. taken in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, MT
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The flightless Mormon Cricket threatened early western pioneers and can still devastate modern food crops.

Updated: 07/07/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Jumping insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Orthoptera
        Family: Tettigoniidae
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          Genus: Anabrus
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            Species: simplex
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Anabrus simplex
Category: Grasshopper or Cricket
Size (Adult; Length): 25mm to 60mm (0.98" to 2.36")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; black; yellow; green
Descriptors: jumping, chirping, curved

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 25mm (1.0in) and 60mm (2.4in)
Lo: 25mm
Md: 42.5mm
Hi: 60mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Mormon Cricket may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Mormon Cricket. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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