Virus kills hordes of crickets raised for reptiles

PORT ALLEN, La. (AP) — 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 crickets.

The virus had swept through European cricket farms in 2002. It was first noticed in 2009 in the U.S. and Canada.

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