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Thursday AM headlines: Mormon crickets invade Nevada, interactive wildlife exhibit

 Two zookeepers lift a long yellow Burmese python while inside its enclosure.
Natural History Museum of Utah

Interactive exhibit brings animals from around the world to SLC

The Natural History Museum of Utah is bringing animal species from around the world to Salt Lake City. "Wild World: Stories of Conservation and Hope,” opening this Saturday and running until early November, is an immersive exhibit that puts a spotlight on wildlife populations, their habitats and the preservation efforts made on their behalf.

The exhibit is staffed by trained educators and zookeepers with the opportunity to interact with live animals like a crested gecko, a ferret and a 16-foot-long Burmese python named Helga.

Other activities include a multimedia theater, over a dozen interactive science-based experiences, and on-site full-time educators who can provide one-on-one animal interactions and group presentations.

The exhibit is free with admission, and it’s recommended visitors reserve their tickets at least a day in advance on their website.

Mormon crickets are invading Nevada. Is Utah next?

Elko, Nevada is currently facing infestations of Mormon crickets that hatched early, leading some to wonder: Is Utah next?

It wouldn’t be the first time Utah experienced biblical proportions of these insects; nearly 2.5 million acres were infested just 20 years ago.

Normally, however, Mormon crickets don’t pose a threat, and are actually a native insect to Utah that serves a crucial role in the food chain. Significant problems only arise about every 20 years when the cricket population booms.

Crickets typically do better in drought years, so with Utah’s cool, wet spring, only a few small infestations have been reported so far. This may mean Utah won’t face the same issues as Nevada, but farmers who do experience infestation issues are still encouraged to call the Department of Agriculture.

According to USU Extension, an infestation is when there are at least eight crickets per square yard of land.

Duck is a general reporter and weekend announcer at UPR, and is studying broadcast journalism and disability studies at USU. They grew up in northern Colorado before moving to Logan in 2018, so the Rocky Mountain life is all they know. Free time is generally spent with their dog, Monty, listening to podcasts, reading or wishing they could be outside more.