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'Biblical' swarms of giant insects swarm Oregon farmland already impacted by warming temperatures

Farmers in Oregon already battling extreme drought and low water supplies are fighting against future grasshopper and Mormon cricket infestations. ARLINGTON, Ore. (AP) - Driving down a windy canyon road in northern Oregon rangeland, Jordan Maley and April Aamodt are on the look out for Mormon crickets, giant insects that can ravage crops."There’s one right there," Aamodt says.They’re not hard to spot.

The insects, which can grow larger than 2 inches (5 centimeters), blot the asphalt.Mormon crickets are not new to Oregon. Native to western North America, their name dates back to the 1800s, when they ruined the fields of Mormon settlers in Utah.

But amidst drought and warming temperatures — conditions favored by the insects — outbreaks across the West have worsened.The Oregon Legislature last year allocated $5 million to assess the problem and set up a Mormon cricket and grasshopper "suppression" program. An additional $1.2 million for the program was approved earlier this month.It’s part of a larger effort by state and federal authorities in the U.S.

West to deal with an explosion of grasshoppers and Mormon crickets that has hit from Montana to Nevada. But some environmental groups oppose the programs, which rely on the aerial spraying of pesticides across large swaths of land.Maley, an Oregon State University Extension Agent, and Aamodt, a resident of the small Columbia River town of Arlington, are both involved in Mormon cricket outreach and surveying efforts in the area.In 2017, Arlington saw its largest Mormon cricket outbreak since the 1940s.

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