AUSTIN - Driving over Mormon crickets sounds like a visit to the chiropractor. Goodyear radials snap their armored bodies like pretzels. The crickets smell like fish oil, and the smell sticks around for a long time.
Just like a scene from a B-horror movie, thousands of Mormon crickets invaded a one- block area in the small town of Austin, 110 miles east of Fallon, over Memorial Day weekend.
In the past few weeks, the crickets not killed by poison or a professional exterminator have moved back into the hills that surround the usually quiet community.
Many locals and state workers bait the carnivorous creatures with poison to keep them at bay.
"There were thousands of them crawling off of the windows and buildings," said bartender Jack Richardson, a 10-year Austin resident. "My wife's uncle is 89, born and raised here, and he had never seen anything like it."
An exterminator sprayed 41 houses at $65 a pop in a few days, which gave many residents a guaranteed 30 days of peace of mind. Nevada Department of Transportation workers and residents gathered enough dead crickets to fill five Dumpsters. NDOT workers used Simple Green to try and get rid of the odor.
Bob Woolley, owner of the International Bar and Cafe, said his business dwindled for two weeks during the crickets' carnage. He said they are disgusting and stinky.
"It was terrible from sun up to sundown," he said. "They covered the street and the building so no one traveling through town would stop. Basically, they are gross, disgusting. If they could fly, nobody would be alive."
Aurora Brewer of Texas was glad that she was just visiting Austin.
"Those crickets are pretty disgusting," she said. "If you step on them in the right spot, they will pop, and all of their guts will splatter out."
Another hatching is expected soon, but opinions on where the invasion originates differ. One local swore the crickets are coming from Fallon and Battle Mountain.
The Lander County Sheriff's Department reported a Mormon cricket mass on the move a couple hills north of town on Highway 305 going toward Battle Mountain.
Semi-trucks are the one thing that get the insects off the road. On the road to Battle Mountain, 20 miles outside Austin, the blood-stained road undulated with reddish-brown bodies - until the big trucks come. The fast and lucky make it off the road in time; most don't. The survivors return to feast on the dead and dying.
Kevin Charles McGibon, a waiter at the International Cafe, said, "After they sprayed the buildings, a lot of them died," he said. "And the live ones started eating the dead ones. They are kind of cannibalistic."
Sometimes that's a good thing. Crickets that eat poisoned crickets are poisoned, too.
Kim Lamb can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org