Mormon Crickets

mormon-cricket_sinkscanyon_20090808_lah_8837“What is that huge, weird bug in the road? And what is it doing?”

We were hiking along a dirt track in Sinks Canyon, Wyoming (a totally gorgeous place, by the way), when we came across a large insect I didn’t recognize. I should have. A bit of research revealed that it was a Mormon Cricket (Anabrus simplex), and not only are they common, but at times they’re so abundant that their voracious appetites consume the landscape!

They do look sort of “cricket-y,” but Mormon crickets are actually shieldbacked katydids, also known as long-horned grasshoppers (family Tettigoniidae, subfamily Decticinae). They are found all over western North America, preferring sagebrush/grass rangeland similar to the place we found this one.