Federal and state officials are seeking suggestions from farmers, ranchers and other landowners in Millard County regarding this year's Mormon cricket control program.

Comments are encouraged by the Utah Department of Agriculture, the United States Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and APHIS, a federal agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture that is responsible for finding solutions to pest control problems on public lands.Crickets invaded Millard County several years ago and have been increasing each year, except in the Oak Creek area where they were first discovered. Significant increases were seen in the Kanosh area last year, where there was damage to alfalfa and grain crops. Bait was spread around the perimeter of the community last summer in an effort to keep the pests from invading the town.

A large expanse of range forage has also been damaged by the pests.

The Utah Department of Agriculture distributed more than 22,000 pounds of bait in 1990 to private landowners through Extension Service offices and local businesses. It was sold on a matching cost basis.

The bait was authorized on federal lands after extensive environmental impact studies were completed, according to Tom Crowe, state director of APHIS.

He said the bait program won't eradicate infestations of the pest but is designed to suppress populations until they are reduced by the natural disease cycle.

Mormon crickets have become so thick during late spring and early summer months in parts of Millard County that some roads, barrow pits and private and public lands have been blackened with the pests. It was reported that they crept into western Sevier County from Millard County for the first time last year.