Busy mandibles, armored, less than a half inch long, it was perched on a leaf. They'd be coming along bigger soon, nearly two inches long by the end of summer, but this one was the first grasshopper of the year.
No songs of rejoicing, no roll of drums for this harbinger of the plague to come. Now until November they'll be eating their way through my garden. It's the Burnetts vs. the hoppers.
Three life processes take up a hoppers life:
Everything green and tender is hopper fodder. Beans, lettuce, small seedlings, tops on their menu, are crunched, chomped, and chewed to rags. Tiny baby squash are gnawed if hopper mandibles get a hold on the tender skins.
What goes in, must come out. By the end of May everything will be peppered with grasshopper poo: rabbit cage tops, feed bins, vehicles, the ground itself. Don't hang the sheets out for that wonderful clean smell; I swear the hoppers balance on the clothesline just to besmirch the bed linens. The evil deed accomplished, they fling themselves away, laughing the mechanical gnashing that is grasshopper laughter.
The dog eats them, the chickens eat them, the cats pounce upon them and eventually dispatch them. We pick them off the plants, and take them to the chickens ourselves. No effect is apparent on the burgeoning hopper population.
Why? They breed. Prolifically. Hoppers must be the best creatures in the world at replacing themselves.
I'm desperate. I'm thinking of poisoning the rapacious devils, if I could find one that worked. I don't want to kill ourselves or any animals in the process, though. What to do??? Got any ideas?