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Grasshoppers and other vermin

August 4, 2010

Overheard this week: “I’ve seen more colors of grasshopper than I even knew existed.”

This has not been a good year for green tasty things out here in the Panhandle. There are apparently a lot of grasshoppers. Farmers and ranchers are not happy (though the chickens might be).

I say “apparently” there are a lot of grasshoppers because although I’ve seen photos of grasshoppers eating the wood on a trailer home last month and I’ve seen defoliated plants along the grasshopper-infested pathway at Scotts Bluff National Monument, there are very few grasshoppers in my yard.

Please don’t hate me if your garden is being devastated by grasshoppers. I live in town, and my yard is not bordered by grasshopper reservoirs like drying-down grassy fields.

I have another plague in my yard instead: squirrels.

The squirrels are mowing down our sunflowers one by one.

Four gone at last count. Heaven help us if they happen to notice our nice, red, juicy tomatoes. Husband thinks we should electrify the plants somehow and let the bushy-tailed varmints get zapped. (I think he got the idea from watching a recent video of a grasshopper that got caught on an electric fence.)

But back to the insect pests . . .

Grasshoppers have been a a major crop pest out here for as long as there’s been farming. UNL has publications on how to deal with grasshoppers on rangeland, cropland, and in the yard and garden. They even have a nifty guide for telling which particular vermin is devouring your precious plants. It make take you awhile to get through the guide, though. There are no fewer than ninety-seven (97!?!?) species of grasshopper in Nebraska.

At least we don’t have to deal with the Rocky Mountain locust anymore. We’ve driven it extinct.

At the recent centennial celebration of the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center, mi esposo set up a display on the history of entomology at the center. One of the display items was a recipe for poisoned bait for grasshopper control. The old-timey recipe included arsenic as an ingredient, and thanks to the Farm and Ranch Museum, the display included an old can of arsenic.

It was pretty funny when I visited the booth and found this:

I wonder if he took a little nibble of some residue on the can, or if he was just resting.

(Note for those grasshopper-fighters desperate enough to try anything: please don’t resort to arsenic. It’s not recommended anymore for obvious reasons. It’ll take YOU out about as easily as the grasshoppers.)

Copyright 2010 by Katie Bradshaw

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2010 5:09 pm


  2. Suemommy permalink
    August 4, 2010 8:38 pm

    We now have a young, pesty, birdseed-eating squirrel in our yard after seven years without one. Bad part is that our three dogs don’t seem to notice it when it is on the bird feeder!

    • Katie Bradshaw permalink
      August 4, 2010 9:41 pm

      What? Shadow’s not chasing?!?? Bill needs to train Skeeter on that one!

  3. September 9, 2010 5:44 pm

    I know I’m way behind on reading your blog, but I can’t resist replying to this one. Way back in 1982 or 83, I remember a HUGE plague of grasshoppers. They were bad, even in town. I lost some houseplants because the hoppers got in and ate them. At that time, I lived in a house on Ave F between 17th & 18th Sts 🙂

    • Katie Bradshaw permalink
      September 9, 2010 9:20 pm

      Eeek! That’s scary that they could go on the rampage indoors, too!

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