First dead birds, then dead fish ... now crickets
Paralysis virus has disrupted supplies to pet shops across North America;
msnbc.com news services
updated 1/12/2011 5:40:49 AM ET
PORT ALLEN, La.— A virus has killed millions
of crickets raised to feed pet reptiles and
those kept in zoos.
The cricket paralysis virus has disrupted
supplies to pet shops across North America as
a handful of operators have seen millions of
their insects killed.
Some operations have gone bankrupt and
others have closed indefinitely until they can
rid their facilities of the virus.
Cricket farms started in the 1940s as a source
of fish bait, but the bulk of sales now are to
pet supply companies, reptile owners and
zoos, although people also eat some.
Most U.S. farms are in the South, but suppliers
from Pennsylvania to California also raise
The virus had swept through European cricket
farms in 2002. It was first noticed in 2009 in
the U.S. and Canada.
The virus marks the latest in a recent series of
mass animal deaths.
Blackbirds fell out of the sky on New Year's
Eve in Arkansas. In the days that followed, 2
million fish died in the Chesapeake Bay, 150
tons of red tilapia in Vietnam, 40,000 crabs in
Britain and other places across the world.
However, biologists say these mass die-offs
happen all the time and usually are unrelated.
Federal records show they happen on average
every other day somewhere in North America.
In the past eight months, the U.S. Geological
Survey's National Wildlife Health Center has
logged 95 mass wildlife die-offs in North
America and that's probably a dramatic
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