Mormon Crickets Dislike Led Zeppelin

Maggie Koerth-Baker is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. A freelance science and health journalist, Maggie lives in Minneapolis, brain dumps on Twitter, and writes quite often for mental_floss magazine.

Note: No Mormons are mocked in the making of this posting.

In a Linda Richman-esque turn of events, Mormon crickets are neither Mormon, nor crickets. In reality, they're katydids whose religious proclivities (if any) remain unknown. The bugs' association with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints comes from stories told by early Mormon settlers in Utah about how thousands of the creatures swarmed in to devastate crops before being miraculously stopped by the arrival of a pack of ravenous seagulls. God worked in mysterious ways.

And continues to do so, apparently. Mormon crickets are still a periodic threat to farmers out west. Every so often (possibly prompted by weather patterns, but nobody's exactly sure), millions of Mormon crickets will band together into a pack--dense as 100 bugs per square meter--and march forward, devouring every scrap of plant life in their path. The flood of bugs can be nigh-on impossible to staunch. Besides eating up crops and lawns, they've been known to stop traffic, and come stomping right through people's homes. Discover magazine's Discoblog quotes a resident of Tuscarora, Nevada:

You'll wake up and there'll be one sitting on your forehead, looking at you

And you thought the scutigera coleoptrata was bad.

But the townsfolk of Tuscarora have found a Mormon cricket defense system almost as miraculous as the bugicidal seagull brigade. They blast the pests with rock. Yes, much like Manuel Noriega, the Tuscarorans claim Mormon crickets can be beaten into submission via thrashing guitar solos. According to Discoblog, entomologists aren't sure why this works, or even if it actually does. Although, if bugs really don't like Led Zeppelin, that would explain why my house was suddenly pest free that summer the neighbor kid spent learning "Smoke on the Water".

Interestingly, Mormon crickets have also invaded Washington D.C. political discourse. According to the Washington Post, a $1 million earmark, meant to help farmers protect their livelihoods from the all-devouring Mormon cricket masses, has been publicly mocked as unnecessary pork by none other than John McCain's Twitter account, which asked:

Is that the species of cricket or a game played by the brits?

Image is provided by Katie Madonia, and was taken in Nevada in 2006.


  1. Although burning the place to the ground with a flare gun is a distinctly Zeppelinesque activity, “Smoke on the Water” is actually by Deep Purple.

    [tears “Zoso” patch off Maggie’s jean jacket, flings it out open Camaro T-top]

  2. “etymologists aren’t sure why this works”

    And why would they be? They study word origins. *Entomologists* study insects. :-)

  3. You’ll wake up and there’ll be one sitting on your forehead, looking at you

    I was walking in the park just the other day, and what do you think I saw?

  4. Frogmarch, for somebody who’s first make-out session was set to “Kashmir”, you’d think I’d know that. D’oh.


    Ravenwood, I”m going to edit and we’re going to pretend this never happened.

  5. I drove over a swarm (or the remnants thereof) on a highway near Delta, Utah, some years back. It was absolutely disgusting, and the road was very slick. Ick.

  6. Ravenword: it’s sad, but I remember watching a Simpsons commentary where they gave themselves all hilarity at the thought of “what is the etymology of entomology.”

    So there you go. It’s me. I’m the one that listens to the DVD commentary.

  7. Apropos of malaprops, my wife and I were at a sushi bar and the sushi-man (authentic title) told a woman that he studies the “entomology of sushi”. Giggles ensued.

    Also my two-word authentication is “Mar Rhodesia”. I’ve never had my robo-spam ID serve as a call to arms.

  8. I hope John McCain is stricken with swine flu while visiting an erupting volcano during a cricket infestation.

  9. So, blast some Slayer, and it’ll get rid of the crickets…?

    On a sidenote, Scutigera Coleoptratas are damned creepy. I’d rather have my house infested by giant mutant rats than those things. *shiver*

  10. Are the crickets “beaten into submission” or are they merely “Dazed and Confused” to the point where they’re driven “Over the Hills and Far Away”?

    And is “Stairway to Heaven” considered a hymn in the “Houses of the Holy” now?

  11. John McCain should watch who he mocks. The Mormons vote Republican and think he’s called of God, but that won’t last long if he mocks their cricket problems.

    (I’ve seen Mormon crickets the size of my hand. When we run across them in the hinterlands of Utah–Vernal, Scipio, etc–they make awful crunchy noises under the tires and you have to get the underside of your car sprayed off. One of my neighbours had part of her car’s undercarriage all gummed up from them. They covered the road for at least a mile on one trip that I saw.)

    (PixelFish, not bothering to log in)

  12. The big story in this to me is that John McCain has a Twitter account. Who do you think actually runs this thing for him? It sure ain’t him! He’s still trying to come to grips with that new-fangled writin’ instrument, the fountain pen.

  13. How Many More Times (Good Times Bad Times) must they come back to the Black Mountainside, Wearing and Tearing in their Misty Mountain Hop Night Flight? Why must these little Heartbreakers Bring It On Home to wage the Battle Of Evermore For Your Life, Tangerine, making you Sick Again of their Presence as they say “I’m Gonna Crawl In My Time Of Dying!” and create so much Physical Graffiti upon the crops.

    The Mormons and their Friends must have a Whole Lotta Love for their religion to reconcile What Is And What Should Never Be In The Light of these vermin coming back In Through The Out Door. Is it simply because it fits into their Immigrant Song from what happened In The Evening of their Celebration Day, back when they settled here with the Hots For Nowhere instead of Going To California by The Ocean (Down By The Seaside) and their god seemed to have said: “Your Time Is Gonna Come!”?

    I suspect it may have actually been a total Communication Breakdown, or surely these Rovers would have been Trampled Under Foot, sent to the Gallows Pole more than Ten Years Gone, like Poor Tom on a South Bound Saurez, making so much Custard Pie. If only they had been given No Quarter, like Achilles Last Stand against Moby Dick. Instead, their god seems to have taken Walter’s Walk, leaving them to Boogie With Stu like a Black Dog (Hot Dog) chasing Four Sticks Out On The Tiles.

    Only a Fool In The Rain ordering Tea For One puts up with so much Ozone Baby, and still sings The Lemon Song, saying: “You Shook Me but I Can’t Quit You Baby…”

    When The Levee Breaks, maybe they’ll be ready to Rock And Roll.

    But I guess That’s The Way The Song Remains The Same. I suspect it’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine. But Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You now because I am beginning to Ramble On.

    -All My Love. Thank You.

  14. PHIKUS @17

    Well played. You must have a lot of time on your side (oops, that’s the Stones).

  15. So if the critters don’t like Rock music and are repelled by it. Which album do I play backwards to summon them?


    Nice piece of work there Phikus.

  16. that would explain why my house was suddenly pest free that summer the neighbor kid spent learning “Smoke on the Water”.
    How can you be free of pests while someone is playing “Smoke on the Water”?

  17. Some Guy@~22: You started it! =D Hardest part was not reusing any of yours (that’s the rule.) Residue of a life fueled by LZ had to help out sometime. My job right now fortunately does afford me some surfing time.

    Glad to all who appreciated that. (Btw, that whole Aphrodite’s Child album I linked to @~19 is a rare gem. Run to your local record store and get it now!)

    Chaotic@~24: You may just have something there.

  18. Choxielove: My Black (haired) Country Woman, Since I’ve Been Loving You, I Can’t Quit You Baby…

  19. phikus! aphrodite’s child FTMFW! good luck finding it at a record store, tho. might be able to find it as a torrent, if u r lucky.

  20. Note: I was able to repeat I Can’t Quit You Baby because LZ did (1st album and Coda) if anyone cares.

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