Why do they call them Mormon crickets?

Answered by Jarrod Smith

The reason they are called Mormon crickets is due to the historical context and the experiences of the Mormon settlers in Utah. When the Mormons were making their way westward in the mid-1800s, they encountered large swarms of these insects along their path. These insects were later identified as shieldbacked katydids, but the name “Mormon cricket” stuck due to its association with the Mormon pioneers.

The Mormon settlers faced numerous challenges as they migrated to the western regions of the United States, and the encounter with the large swarms of these insects was one of them. The Mormon crickets were known for their voracious appetite and their tendency to move in large groups, devouring crops and vegetation in their path. This posed a significant threat to the livelihood of the settlers, who relied heavily on agriculture for sustenance.

One particular event that solidified the association between the Mormon settlers and the crickets is known as the miracle of the gulls. As the story goes, in 1848, the Mormon pioneers were facing a severe infestation of Mormon crickets that were ravaging their crops and threatening their survival. The settlers prayed for divine intervention, and according to legend, a large flock of seagulls appeared and began consuming the crickets, ultimately saving the crops.

This event became a significant part of Mormon pioneer folklore and reinforced the connection between the settlers and the crickets. The name “Mormon cricket” was thus given to these insects as a nod to their historical impact on the Mormon settlers’ lives and the role they played in the miracle of the gulls.

It is worth noting that the term “cricket” itself is a misnomer, as the Mormon cricket is actually a species of shieldbacked katydid. These insects belong to the family Tettigoniidae, which includes katydids, crickets, and grasshoppers. The Mormon cricket’s scientific name is Anabrus simplex.

The name “Mormon cricket” originated from the encounters of Mormon settlers in Utah with large swarms of shieldbacked katydids. The association between the settlers and the crickets was further strengthened by the story of the miracle of the gulls, where seagulls were believed to have saved the crops from the devastating infestation. Despite being called crickets, these insects are actually katydids and belong to the family Tettigoniidae.