Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mormon Crickets

Friday, The Wall Street Journal ran a wonderful, whimsical story about the Mormon crickets.  IF you've never seen the crickets, they can appear like a biblical plague in the west deserts of Utah.  They are remarkable in their numbers -- they literally cover the ground such that you can hardly see the ground.

What the Journal left out was how the Cricket story is central to Mormon memory.  Having moved into the Great Basin in 1847, Mormons needed a significant crop in 1848 to support the families moving into the valley.  Survival was at stake in this desert environment.  In late May 1848, as the crickets began to destroy crops, worries grew.  Seagulls nesting near the Great Salt Lake came and ate numerous crickets, arguably saving the lives of the pioneers in Utah.  They have been honored as Utah's state bird and have a monument near the Salt Lake Temple.  See the Encyclopedia of Mormonism for more.

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