Where are those ravenous seagulls when you need them? Idaho farmers are bracing for an invasion of Mormon crickets this summer, but they are unlikely to be as fortunate as early Utah settlers, whose besieged crops were miraculously rescued by flocks of birds. Instead, the federal government planned to spray pesticides over huge tracts of public land.
recent environmental assessment from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture cleared the way for spraying on "virtually all areas
which might host outbreaks." That comes to nearly 20 million acres
in southern Idaho, including wilderness areas, wilderness study
areas and other sensitive ecosystems.
immediately sued to stop the spraying of carbaryl, malathion and
diflubenzuron. They argued the chemicals would damage water quality
and harm wildlife, including endangered species. In response to the
public outcry, the USDA issued an addendum to the assessment in
May, which says the agency will not spray pesticides this summer.
Instead, land managers will use carbaryl bait — toxic cricket
food — that is less likely to drift in the wind and
contaminate waterways. The addendum also prohibits pesticide
application in wilderness and wilderness study areas.
Scott Hoffman Black, the executive director of the Xerces Society,
an international nonprofit dedicated to invertebrate protection, is
pleased with the changes, but still has some concerns about the
USDA’s policies. "It’s misguided to even try to control
these insects (on public lands) where they are a natural component
of the ecosystem."
To read the environmental assessment
and the new addendum, visit