Tag Archives: entomophagy

Jumping Jehoshaphat, the grasshoppers have arrived!

In the news…

I’m wondering if anyone is following the grasshopper outbreak in Oregon? If you don’t know about this, I’ll fill you in and include some links. Perhaps we need to round up our “mean-ole, hummingbird murdering mantids” (EXTREME SARCASM HERE!) and send them south to help out. Just kidding. If you read through the attached list of sources, you’ll see in one where they’ve now determined the mantids don’t have much of an impact on controlling grasshoppers (Fries, 2021).

If they are so bad (and from historical reports, they can indeed reach proportions on the scale of a Biblical plague), what do we do about them? Why is there such an outbreak?

Grasshopper populations cycle periodically, but it’s thought they are worst when conditions are dry. One theory is that a fungus that controls populations isn’t viable in these conditions and only works when we have damper weather.

Historically, control methods have been pretty toxic – everything from arsenic bait to other drastic measures – all environmentally hazardous. If you review old agricultural journals, records of exploding grasshopper populations conjure up images of something you’d see in a horror movie, only it was real. Historical photos exist of a landscape stripped of vegetation; bare fields and trees. Handles were eaten off wooden farm implements and fenceposts were eaten too. Crops were lost, people starved. There’s a reason it’s called a PLAGUE. 🦗🦗🦗

So, this is happening now in Oregon. Aphis is coordinating aerial spraying of wide swaths (millions of acres ) of land with an insecticide called diflubenzuron. Studies have shown diflubenzuron reduces populations of bees, butterflies, beetles, and many other species of insects. Aquatic invertebrates consumed by endangered fish and trout are also vulnerable (Xerces Society, 2022). Xerces Society has a federal lawsuit against Aphis to fight this grasshopper managment strategy. Application of this insecticide directly threatens endangered species like yellow-billed cuckoos, black-footed ferrets, bull trout, Ute ladies’-tresses orchids, Oregon spotted frogs and Spalding’s catchflies which are present in multiple states in which the insecticide spraying program operates (Xerces, 2022).

What can we do if we don’t spray? Well, I would encourage folks to look at the studies about the benefits of eating grasshoppers. They aren’t much different than shrimp. At a minimum, they could be netted, dried, and manufactured into feed for poultry, fish, and swine. We have to stop the madness. Dumping chemicals is only bringing our apocalypse closer. We won’t survive. The grasshoppers probably will. 🦗🦗🦗🦗🦗🦗🦗

References and Further Reading

Brown, M. 2021. Forget cicadas. Drought-stricken West is getting plagued by voracious grasshoppers. LA Times. https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-06-24/western-drought-brings-voracious-grasshoppers

Cannings, R.A. 2007. Recent range expansion of the Praying Mantis, Mantis religiosa Linnaeus (Mantodeaz Mantidae), in British Columbia. Journal of the Entomological Society of British Columbia. 104 https://journal.entsocbc.ca/index.php/journal/article/view/101 or https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237474147_Recent_range_expansion_of_the_Praying_Mantis_Mantis_religiosa_Linnaeus_Mantodea_Mantidae_in_British_Columbia

Fries, J. 2021. Praying mantises alive and well in Okanagan. Kelowna Daily Courier. https://www.kelownadailycourier.ca/news/article_86bd5fc4-f18b-11eb-8614-d328402eb90c.html

Handschuh, D. 2021. The Hoppers are Here. Increase in number of grasshoppers noted across the Okanagan. Castanet. https://www.castanet.net/news/Vernon/343375/Increase-in-number-of-grasshoppers-noted-across-the-Okanagan

Larson, T. 2014. The Grasshopper Plague. Ghosts of North Dakota. https://ghostsofnorthdakota.com/2014/03/16/the-grasshopper-plague/

Morgan, Adam. 2014. IN 1937, Colorado Guard used flamethrowers and explosives against plague of locusts. National Guard. https://www.nationalguard.mil/news/article-view/article/575751/in-1937-colorado-guard-used-flamethrowers-and-explosives-against-plague-of-locu/

PARKER, J. R., R. C. NEWTON and R. L. SHOTWELL. 1955. Observations on mass flights and other activities of the migratory grasshopper. USDA Tech. Bull. 1109. 

Parker, J.R., Newton, R.C., and R.L. Shotwell. 1955. Observations on Mass Flights and Other Activities of the Migratory Grasshopper. U.S. Department of Agriculture https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=KrMXAAAAYAAJ

Reinhardt and Ganzel. 2003. Grasshoppers were a plague during the 1930’s depression. Wessels Living History Farm, Nebraska. https://livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe30s/pests_02.html

Rush, C. 2022. ‘Biblical’ insect swarms spur Oregon push to fight pests. Info.News.CA https://infotel.ca/newsitem/us-destructive-grasshoppers/cp1339611467

Thistle, J. 2008-2009. ACCOMMODATING CATTLE: British Columbia’s “Wars” with Grasshoppers and “Wild Horses”1.  BC Studies; Vancouver Iss. 160, (Winter 2008/2009): 67-70,72-91,156 https://www.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/accommodating-cattle-british-columbias-wars-with/docview/196882595/se-2 or British Columbia’s “Wars” with Grasshoppers and “Wild Horses”1https://ojs.library.ubc.ca › article › download

Xerces Society. 2022. Lawsuit Launched Challenging USDA’s Failure to Protect Endangered Species From Insecticide Sprays Over Millions of Acres in U.S. West. https://xerces.org/press/lawsuit-launched-challenging-usdas-failure-to-protect-endangered-species-from-insecticide

We can EAT them! 

Imathiu, Samuel. 2020. Benefits and food safety concerns associated with consumption of edible insects. NFS Journal 18: 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nfs.2019.11.002 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S235236461930046X

Lopez-Santamarina A, Mondragon ADC, Lamas A, Miranda JM, Franco CM, Cepeda A. Animal-Origin Prebiotics Based on Chitin: An Alternative for the Future? A Critical Review. Foods. 2020 Jun 12;9(6):782. doi: 10.3390/foods9060782. PMID: 32545663; PMCID: PMC7353569. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7353569/

Shah AA, Totakul P, Matra M, Cherdthong A, Hanboonsong Y, Wanapat M. Nutritional composition of various insects and potential uses as alternative protein sources in animal diets. Anim Biosci. 2022 Feb;35(2):317-331. doi: 10.5713/ab.21.0447. Epub 2022 Jan 4. PMID: 34991214; PMCID: PMC8831828. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8831828/

Stull, Valerie. 2019. Bugs for our bugs? Edible insects and the microbiome. Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative. https://www.globalsoilbiodiversity.org/blog-beneath-our-feet/2019/2/27/bugs-for-our-bugs-edible-insects-and-the-microbiome

Swanson, S. 2019. This is a story about eating grasshoppers. Nevada Public Radio. Desert Companion Essay. https://knpr.org/desert-companion/2019-12/story-about-eating-grasshoppers

Yawaza, M. 2021. The History of Chapulines: ICE faculty and staff taste test edible grasshoppers from Mexico. ICE. https://ice.edu/blog/chapulines-mexican-food


Grasshopper Tacos https://www.quericavida.com/recipes/grasshopper-tacos/35a7e337-7fb5-4ef3-b58b-50b7403b72ea

Recipe: Teriyaki Skewers with grasshoppers https://www.insectgourmet.com/teriyaki-skewers-with-grasshoppers/

Sparrow Bee


I find doodling is a great way to reduce stress. Here are my morning doodles (and Japanese interpretation) of the most scary insect in the news in the United States.

They say laughter is another good way to reduce stress and I admit I chuckled a bit watching the sensationalized CBS video of the kevlar?-suited team taking on the “Murder Hornets.” https://www.cbsnews.com/news/murder-hornets-85-killed-13-captured-alive-washington-state/

These hornets INVADING North America (hyperbole here), are native to Asia. It’s also very likely they’ve entered the US illegally in someone’s suitcase. At least that’s what I think! My sense of this came from reading the US Dept of Agriculture bulletin titled New Pest Response Guidelines linked here – https://cms.agr.wa.gov/WSDAKentico/Documents/PP/PestProgram/Vespa_mandarinia_NPRG_10Feb2020-(002).pdf Note page 16 of the guide where it reviews how Asian cultures place a high value on the wasps as a delicacy, especially how expensive the market price for the wasps are in Japan. Hmmm.

Yesterday I thought I’d do some research on how the Japanese live amongst these giant wasps, known to entomologists as Vespa mandarinia or the Asian Giant Hornet (AGH).

What I found out was pretty interesting!

First off, the Japanese name for the wasps is Suzumebachi. Say “Sue zoom eh ba chee” and you’re close. Suzumebachi translates into “sparrow-bee.”

In my quest to uncover the history of these insects in Japanese culture, I found they are actually revered. The Japanese bee hunters climb into the mountains to dig up the subterranean nests and collect the adults, larvae, and pupae. Check out this bloggers adventure as she hikes into the mountain to help her guide dig up a subterranean nest http://www.libertyruth.com/blog/vespa-mandarinia-finally-finally-i-can-write-about-the-venom?fbclid=IwAR30J9hbyB6xtRx5zqVZrodcfG6U2DFKdPPDlV9CGolOBc1HwR7CbAV5S5c

Japanese anime’ has a character based on the “bee sparrow,” and you can buy a variety of costume garments to dress just like her if you’re inclined. If you can believe it, many of the online stores selling these costumes are SOLD OUT! You can read about the anime’ character of Suzumebachi here https://naruto.fandom.com/wiki/Suzumebachi

The Japanese eat these highly prized wasps. I found one story online originally published in Munchies. It’s titled, I Got Buzzed on Japanese Hornet Cocktails and takes place in a bar in Japan. Guess what the bar is named? Suzumebachi! According to the blogger, the owner has gone all out and even has a giant hornet nest displayed behind the bar. Read more here – https://www.vice.com/amp/en/article/aeyp4k/i-got-buzzed-on-killer-japanese-hornet-cocktails

More about hornet sake here – https://youtu.be/r6k60yo_nZo

While some hornets are kept in captivity and bred because of their great value, in rural village communities, you can still find traditional Suzumebachi hunters and attend annual festivals themed around the collection of the hornets https://travel.gaijinpot.com/edible-wasp-festival/ and https://www.splendidtable.org/story/2019/02/08/the-japanese-tradition-of-raising-and-eating-wasps

It’s pretty incredible how prized these hornets are for their medicinal and culinary properties. Japanese athletes are even touting increased energy after drinking hornet juice https://youtu.be/sfdSPW-cwgM or using bee protein powder.

While I don’t discount the intimidation factor of these wasps, we may be missing something in our eradication efforts.

Eating insects is in our future. It could be a lucrative investment!

Thanks for reading.

Author’s note: I am in no way encouraging the importation of exotic species, or species deemed invasive, but only writing this to present an alternate perspective as a means of balancing the extraordinary sensationalization of the Asian Giant Hornet. They aren’t the Winged Horsemen of the Apocalypse!