From The New York Times,
New York, New York, June 4th, 1882; reprinted from The Salt Lake Herald,
Salt Lake City, Utah.
THE SEA-GULLS AND THE CRICKETS: HOW THE CORN-FIELDS OF THE MORMON PIONEERS WERE SAVED FROM DESTRUCTION
. . . In the second year after the pioneers had arrived here - in 1848 - the large black crickets common to these mountainous regions made their appearance in this and some other valleys in clouds - figuratively speaking. They did not fly, but came hopping down the mountain-sides in myriads. So vast were their numbers the mountains were black and seemed literally alive with the great big, black, ugly things, each one about the size of a large man's thumb.
It was at a time when the crops were promising; everything looked green; the future outlook seemed bright, and the heart of the sun-burned and toil-worn pioneer grew lighter as the prospects of a plentiful harvest and greater comforts grew more and more tangible with each day's growth of the healthy grain. But blacker than the clouds of coal-black crickets which came hopping down the mountain slopes in countless numbers, leaving barrenness and desolation in their wake, were the clouds of despair which filled the heart of the weary husbandman as this new and unlooked-for curse came slowly but surely toward the pride, the joy, and the promise of the early settler - his fields of waving corn and grain.
The foe was utterly unconquerable so far as human efforts were concerned; there was nothing the heart-sick farmer could do but stand idly by and see the labor of the season destroyed. Children gazed with wonder and terror; women looked with eyes full of tears, and strong men watched with hearts of despair. It was an awful hour.
But lo! a wonder; The sky is filled with large birds; they fly toward the scene of the disaster, and they alight in the fields where the crickets hold supreme sway. Then comes a change. At once the flocks of birds begin to eat the crickets. From morn till night they continue, never ceasing. When filled until they can hold no more they vomit up the black mass, and again continue to eat the crickets. This is kept up day after day until not one of the devouring host is seen; the crops are saved, and the birds fly away.
This bird was the one which could recently be seen in the fields, and which was then more abundant than at any time since the event above mentioned. It was not surprising that the pioneers should return thanks to God for his succor, and that forever after the sea-gull should be looked upon as a dear friend, to be protected and encouraged.
(Return of the Killer Crickets, anyone?)