During their first two weeks of battling crop-eating Mormon crickets, state and federal crews have used up more than 30 percent of their poisoned wheat.
"We purchased 10 tons of the bait, and we've already spread a total of more than 3 tons at three different locations in Utah," said Edison Stephens, state Agriculture Commissioner.Through Friday, Stephens said, the crews had spread 4,100 pounds of the poisoned grain in the Oak Creek area in west-central Utah, 1,900 pounds on the Goshute Indian Reservation near the Utah-Nevada line and 70 pounds in the Blue Mountain and Diamond Mountain areas near Dinosaur National Monument.
"We're really just getting started in the Blue Mountain and Diamond Mountains areas," he said.
The crews hope they have until the end of May, Stephens said, to kill the juvenile crickets before they lay their eggs, which will hatch next year.
The chemical poison in the grain is species specific, Stephens said. "It will kill crickets, grasshoppers and locust within 30 minutes" but is considered harmless to other insects, wildlife, domestic animals and fowl.
The state also plans to sell some of the treated wheat to Utah farmers for treating their rangelands, he said.
The crews have reported cricket populations as high as 300 per square yard in some areas, Stephens said, adding "if they all become adults, they can do a tremendous amount of damage to crops."