Subject: What’s this crazy bug?
Geographic location of the bug: Cle Elum, Washington 98922
August 25, 2017 3:57 pm
Saw this bug yesterday. The long thing at the tail end of the bug is like a spike which the bug forces into the ground… it then wiggles, lifts the spike and then moves forward a few inches and does it again. Almost as if it is laying eggs at a depth of an inch or so into the ground. I have video of this process if you want it.
How you want your letter signed: Scott
Your speculation about your observations is correct. This is a female Mormon Cricket, which we verified thanks to this BugGuide image, and she was using her spiky ovipositor to lay eggs in the ground. According to BugGuide: “Common name refers to invasion of agricultural lands farmed by Mormon settlers in the Great Salt Lake Basin in the 19th century, especially an outbreak in 1848.” BugGuide also states: “Eggs may lay dormant in soil for a number of years, and then many may hatch in an area in the same season when conditions are ideal. Eggs hatch in spring when soil becomes warm enough, with adults often present by as early as late May (depending upon local conditions), and usually most abundant as adults in June and July. Most are generally gone by sometime in August or September, but some may live until the first freezes of autumn. If swarming occurs, it is usually most prominent early in the season, made up of nymphs and/or young adults. Later in the season (usually by August) swarms tend to break up, and older adults tend to become more sedentary. However, timing may vary a great deal from place to place and year to year, depending upon weather conditions.” BugGuide further explains: “Though flightless, this species can form migratory swarms or ‘bands’ that travel on foot, eating almost anything (both plant and sometimes small animal) in their paths, and have been significantly destructive to rangeland and crops at times. Swarming occurs primarily in the Wyoming Basin, Colorado Plateaus, Great Basin, and Columbia Plateau. In the Sierras, Rockies, and other higher mountain areas, and on the northern Great Plains, individuals average smaller, are usually non-migratory, and coloring is commonly of lighter colors (often tan or green). Individuals in bands are most commonly of a deep brown, often nearly black color.”