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‘More normal’ levels for crickets this year

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The cool, moist spring last year likely means that Utah's Mormon cricket and grasshopper populations will return to "more normal" levels for this summer, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food said Thursday.

At the department's winter cricket and grasshopper Decision and Action Committee meeting, U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist Greg Abbott said that in 2002, 2003 and 2004 Utah's combined cricket and grasshopper infestations reached a high of 4.2 million acres. This year, the department forecasts that an estimated 500,000 acres could be infested, primarily in Box Elder County.

Cricket numbers for this year could be even smaller if Utah's weather is again cool and moist at the critical hatching time, Abbott said.

The UDAF and USDA expect to begin treating the infested acres with ground and aerial pesticide applications in March or April, depending on weather conditions, the agencies said.

The UDAF is offering to offset the cost of insect treatment on private lands. Landowners may apply for assistance by calling 801-538-7123.