Friday, September 11, 2009


I fear and loathe grasshoppers. In my mind's eye, grasshoppers are the size of the one in the photo above. They are like military helicopters: armored, khaki colored, and slightly scary in the way they hover over the garden this time of year, waiting to descend and devour. Townies never see the huge 'hoppers that we get out here in the country. I've been laughed at and ridiculed many times, but no one can shame me out of my fear, even if it is admittedly unreasonable.

Fortunately, this year was not bad, insect-wise. I had only a handful of Japanese beetles, and almost no other pests to speak of--not even mosquitoes. Still, the risk of running into a grasshopper limits my time outdoors. Crazy, isn't it?

Many people seem to have a fondness for grasshoppers that I simply cannot fathom. They are destructive creatures that will eat anything. Plagues of locusts destroyed the grasslands in the mid-1930s. I'm sure that during those years of drought and dust and grasshoppers, people thought the end of the world was coming. Obviously, it wasn't.

In my own yard, I've seen grasshoppers consume ornamental grasses, roses, and window screens. Yes, window screens. They are seemingly impervious to chemical controls, but praying mantises will catch and eat them, as will birds.

One year I planted a pot of rosemary in my garden. As rosemary is not hardy here, I put it in a clay pot and sank the whole pot into the herb bed. When September rolled around, I dug up the pot and brought the rosemary indoors to overwinter. I placed it on a sunny corner of my work desk, so I could enjoy the invigorating scent all winter.

Imagine my surprise when, on a warm day in mid-February, I discovered the tiniest of grasshopper nymphs hopping over my paperwork. They'd hatched from the soil in my rosemary pot. I was raising grasshoppers! They were kind of cute, I guess, but after a couple of days I didn't see them anymore, and I was hugely relieved. This house isn't big enough for me and a military helicopter. I mean, grasshopper.


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