Monday, July 4, 2011

The Grasshopper War

It's the dog days of summer. Temps have been in the 100s now for a few weeks, and show no signs of letting up. We're also in a drought. They haven't placed water restrictions on us yet, but I'm sure they're not far off.

We're not reaping much from the garden lately. Spinach and lettuce bolted, or became bug food. Strawberries have stopped producing. I've not gotten a single poblano or jalapeno pepper, though I've had plenty of blooms on the poblano plant. One tomato plant, a cherry called Sugary, is making quite a few tomatoes. The Early Girl has put on one more. The rest are getting blooms but not fruit, which is to be expected in this heat, but it still feels like the plants are sticking their tongues out at me. The chard plants are looking better than they did a few weeks ago, when I had a caterpillar (cabbage worm?) infestation. 

The sunflowers are finally starting to bloom, and have also attracted a few bees and other flying pollinators. Here's a smaller one:

Notice the lurking grasshopper.

However, a great many of my plants still look like this...

...eaten down to almost nothing. I suspect two culprits. There are the grasshoppers, and this guy:

I don't know what he is. When these bugs first appeared, I hoped they might be beneficial; maybe eat some aphids or something. But, noooo...they're leaf eaters. They're easy to catch, at least.

And catching bugs is what I spend the majority of my time in the garden doing these days. It's mostly grasshoppers, though. They're hanging out on every plant. I've never seen so many (though I've heard stories of them being much worse). I don't know if they're more plentiful in general this year, or if they're all just hanging around my yard for the garden. There's plenty of them in the front yard flowerbeds, too, where I have herbs planted.

The good news is, they've fed so well that they've gotten big and slow, and are easier to catch. The bad news is, I'm a softie. I can't kill them. It's not that I don't want to hurt the poor little garden-rapers. It's just that I don't want to squish them, because it's icky. The hubster will catch them, pull a couple legs off and throw them in the yard for the dog to find (she loves to catch them). But that seems cruel to me. Instead, I've become a one-woman grasshopper rehoming agency. I catch them, put them in a coffee can, transport them to far-away, garden-free patches of green space, and let them go. It's weird, I know. Eventually I'll probably tire of the Grasshopper Express and find another way to deal with it. I'd like to believe that I'm seeing fewer of them around, but that's probably just wishful thinking.


  1. If smushing grasshoppers make you sad, you wouldn't be happy with my garden lately. Its the bird netting. I ensnared a gecko last week. I found his body cut clean in half. Not sure what that was all about but nevertheless, he's dead.

    Today, Wifey pointed out a dead bird in the garden. My have gotten stuck inside the bird netting and had a stroke trying to get out? Didn't expect either of those to happen.

    But on a lighter note, Happy 4th! Hope you have an enjoyable evening! I included an Eskimo Joe's cup in a recent blog picture just for you ;-)

  2. Get some chickens. They'll do murder on the bugs and you can feel ok about it.

  3. Haha I wish I could Arsenius! I'd love to have some chickens but they're disallowed by both my HOA and my city. Also I don't know if I could keep my dog from killing them.

  4. Home Owners Association. UGH!

    I live so far out in the woods, at night I can look out into the mountains and not see another light except the stars. Don't have to worry about somebody in a city truck coming around telling me how to live. But I know I'm lucky and not everyone can do that, at least, so early in their lives.

    The dog is a consideration. My dogs eat the eggs, but I want them too. They don't kill chickens or cats, having grown up amongst them.

  5. laughing at your grasshopper transport! thanks for stopping by my blog today and leaving a comment! good luck with those hoppers! they're eating everything in drought-stricken texas this summer too...

  6. I'd be looking for slugs too. That type of damage, yet not seeing the culprit during the day.. really seems like possible slug troubles.

    Last year in CO we had a sea of slugs, even though it is an arid area, tended gardens are safe havens for these pests. Over night they would devour entire potato plants and just leave the stem.

    Check the garden when the sun is setting.. also maybe put a board down over damp soil and flip it in the morning to see who wandered under it.. (or if you have mulch, check in that).

    Diatomaceous earth can also be lightly dusted on plants to deter pests (just be careful not to inhale the dust!)

  7. Anne, I'll give that a try. I hadn't really thought about slugs. I haven't seen any, but I haven't been looking for them either.