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Despite This We Stay for July 5th, 2012

by Carol Dunn
HUERFANO — Some say it’s the drought and the heat wave that have brought this plague of grasshoppers down upon us. Maybe aliens dropped grasshopper egg-bombs on us to observe how much insect torture we can take before we go insane. If so, it’s working – these demons are driving me up a wall in fifth gear.
First of all, they are professional eating machines. They eat anything and everything. They are wreaking havoc in my garden. You tell me, what kind of a self-respecting bug eats onions? Down to the ground! Their dating ritual does not seem to be affected by halitosis. I guess with that black tar-juice they spit, what’s a little onion added in?
They don’t even sleep. They just eat and poop. I know because I went outside one night and they were jumping all through the grass, or what’s left of the grass, to get out of my way. And I don’t know why they try to avoid being stepped on. You can’t kill them by stepping on them. They are like gummy bears, they just spring back when the pressure is released. You have to slide your foot over one to squash it, and even then it will still try to jump when you remove your foot. I even saw a headless one jumping, so brains are entirely optional. And sometimes they land on you to get out of your way, which, when you think about it, is pretty good strategy, because you can’t really kill one by slapping yourself. That just leaves the imprint of your hand, it hurts, and the grasshopper leaps away with a smirk on its face.
The plague includes all makes and models of grasshoppers: jumping ones and flying ones; striped ones and two-tones; green ones and orange ones; big and little. We even see a tan specimen now and then that has a horn-looking thing on its back. I don’t mean a trumpet, I mean a horn like it would use to jump into your face and split your lip open.
At first, we intended to wage war on the grasshoppers with turkeys. Unfortunately, we only had three turkeys and a million trillion grasshoppers. The turkeys did their best, but they would come dragging back to the barn at the end of the day so inebriated on grasshopper juice that they couldn’t remember how to get up on the perch. The dogs have been doing their part, chasing down the ones that don’t fly and eating them with zeal. A dog can eat maybe 50 grasshoppers in a typical day. (It would be more, but they have to gak up the legs now and then.) Unfortunately, grasshoppers give dogs REALLY BAD GAS. I know, it’s a small price to pay. But when you’re sitting watching a suspenseful movie and that gas wafts up your nostrils, you realize the kind of sacrifice even the dogs are making.
Since the turkeys and dogs couldn’t keep up, I decided we should get some guineas.
However, I called around, and suddenly there is a shortage of guineas around here. I had to order some day-old keets, and it takes four weeks for a mini-guinea to get big enough to choke down a grasshopper. By that time, I’m afraid there won’t be any vegetation left around here and the grasshoppers will hopefully move on to another area or start eating old rusty cars and adobe bugs. Well, we can hope.