Ryan Jordan

Mormon Crickets as Traveling Companions, and Calories

Photo: Mormon Hitchhiker, Slough Creek Trail, Yellowstone National Park, July 31, 2003. Self-portrait with a Minolta Dimage X.

In 2003, I observed more Mormon Crickets in Yellowstone National Park than I’ve seen in the past 15 years. They were everywhere.

The Mormon Cricket (Anabrus simplex) is neither a cricket (it’s a katydid) nor a Mormon. It’s a flightless, bumbling, cannibalistic beast of an insect that seems as out of place in North America as it does right at home in the bizarre environment of Yellowstone.

They are full of protein, and I’ve eaten them roasted. I like to soak them in salt water for a few minutes, then drop them in aluminum foil and cook them over the fire until they’re brittle. If you eat it raw, get rid of the abdomen before eating the rest, because it’s full of gooey nastiness you don’t want to have in your mouth. When cooked, it has a sweeter flavor. Dress with a little cayenne pepper and eat them like popcorn.

The one in the photo lived to see another day.