When a friend of mine sent me a link about a looming "grasshopper infestation," I knew I had my next post idea. In a March 29, 2010 piece ominously entitled, "Day of the Grasshopper Looms," Stephanie Simon of The Wall Street Journal tells us how "hungry swarms" of grasshoppers can cause "hundreds of millions of dollars in damage" when they devour corn, barley, alfalfa, and beets. Of course, no mention that much of those crops are grown using genetically modified organisms, heavily sprayed with pesticides, and typically reserved for doomed livestock. No need for context when you write for the corporate media.
Simon writes of cows unable to find grass without talking about those cows being slaughtered to support the industrial meat-based diet or the climate damage that diet causes. Nah, let's instead talk about solutions (sic) like aerial spraying of the pesticide Dimilin.
Simple first step: Don't demonize the grasshopper when it's we humans who are treating the planet like it's an orbiting outhouse.
Some Identifying Features of a Grasshopper
- Brown, with some darker markings
- Black herringbone pattern on hind femur
- Big hind legs for jumping
- 2 pairs of wings: forewings narrow and relatively hard; hind wings large, membranous
- Antennae not very long, 20-24 segments- Conspicuous eyes- Cerci (pair of appendages at end of abdomen) unjointedSome Lessons From a Grasshopper5 Ways to Value a Grasshopper1. PestsA little context from John R. Meyer, Department of Entomology, NC State University- The mass media continually reinforces the belief with reports about killer bees, giant grasshoppers, poisonous spiders, and crops destroyed by marauding bands of insects. This cultural indoctrination has produced a society that seems to be increasingly consumed by efforts to eliminate insects from all facets of daily life.- Pest control has become big business. Nearly 75 million pounds of broad-spectrum insecticides are manufactured and sold each year for use in American homes and gardens. Annual revenues from insecticide sales to homeowners exceed $450 million.- This notion of "pest" is unique to humans and completely anthropocentric. We define pests in terms of our own standards of good and bad—standards that are often based largely on aesthetics, economics, and personal welfare, and shaped by cultural bias and personal experiences.- In reality, many of the insects we label as pests are essential components of our natural ecosystem.2. FoodBirds, lizards, mantids, spiders, and rodents eat grasshoppers.3. AthletesWe all marveled when Michael Jordan took off from the free throw line and dunked, but a typical grasshopper can jump 30 inches. If His Airness could jump that many times his body length, he would be able cover an entire football field in a single leap. 4. Not a Cricket- Crickets are nocturnal. Grasshoppers are diurnal.- Grasshoppers are more vividly green than crickets.- Crickets do not fly.- A cricket's antennae are longer than a grasshopper's.- A cricket has its ears in its legs. A grasshopper's legs are located in its abdomen.5. Part of the Big Picture (just like the rest of us)As herbivores, grasshoppers link plants to the rest of the ecosystem. Their droppings contribute to nutrient turnover by returning nutrients as fertilizer for the plants. As mentioned above, they provide also food for birds and other creatures.