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Mormon cricket ‘sludge’ causes crashes in Nevada

Authorities are warning drivers to be careful after the giant, cannibalistic bugs, which don’t directly harm humans, swarmed towns across the state last year.

Authorities in Nevada are warning drivers to be cautious after Mormon cricket “sludge” caused several crashes over the weekend.

The icky combination of recent rain and mashed Mormon crickets run over by cars and trucks created a slippery muck over roads and led to two crashes involving three semi-trucks on Interstate 80, the Eureka County Sheriff’s Office said. No serious injuries were reported, a sheriff’s spokesperson said.

The sheriff’s office, as well as fire, emergency services and Nevada State Police, responded to the multiple crashes Saturday and warned vehicles to slow down as the unsavory mixture made “roadways EXTREMELY slick and unpredictable for stopping distance.”

The giant, cannibalistic bugs, which don’t directly harm humans, made headlines last year after they swarmed towns across the state.

The scene at one of the crashes in Nevada caused by cricket "sludge."
The scene at one of the crashes in Nevada caused by cricket “sludge.”Eureka County Sheriff’s Office

Nevada’s state entomologist, Jeff Knight, told NBC News last year that outbreaks of Mormon crickets typically last four to six years and eventually drop off because of natural predators. Before 2019, Nevada went more than a decade without seeing the crickets.

Their eggs remain in the soil until a drought cycle triggers them to finally hatch, he said.

The crickets have already been a menace in some northern Nevada communities. They inundated Jesse Hall Elementary School in Sparks this month, prompting the cancellation of some outdoor activities, including recess and physical education classes, NBC affiliate KRNV of Reno reported.

Residents were being encouraged to report sightings of the creatures to aid in treatment efforts.

The critters are a “common occurrence” throughout northern Nevada and other Western states, and their populations can reach levels that “pose a risk to agriculture and public safety on roadways,” according to the state Agriculture Department.

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