Creepy Crawlies of the Country

One thing I have discovered, in this our first summer of country living, is that my reaction to bugs is different here than in the city. When I come across a bug or a spider out here I am less likely to jump back and squeal expecting someone else to deal with it. It’s as if I instinctively realize that I am living among a slightly less tamed environment. I am now among dirt, wind, summer heat, turtles, birds, skunks, snakes, spiders and BUGS! Lots of bugs!
Toward the end of June I began noticing tiny grasshoppers suddenly appearing in the yard. I thought they were cute and now that we had some chickens I knew that they were a natural source of food for them while they clucked around as nature’s pest control. Cycle of life and natural bug control made me realize that this was just the sort of setting that would bring pride to a Hobby Farm magazine writer. I was even thrilled to explain it all to the granddaughters of a friend that visited for a Friday afternoon of swimming and lunch!

Gigi and her grandgirls

Gigi and her grandgirls

Little did I know that within 24 hours our moment of harmony would swing to plague proportion. You see, the very next day and for the following two weeks, those tiny cute grasshoppers grew and grew fast. They grew in size and in population.
One lone hopper...for now!

One lone hopper…for now!

Grasshoppers everywhere!

Grasshoppers everywhere!

Our property was overrun with hundreds of grasshoppers, followed-up with grasshopper carcass! At the height of our invasion it was best to walk outside with your eyes squinted and mouth completely shut as these hoppers were everywhere!
They were stripping rose bushes, crepe myrtles, pampas grass, along with some young tree near our front door that I have yet to identify. Our tiny, experimental vegetable garden was beginning to thrive with healthy corn, cucumbers and beans. The grasshoppers had it all destroyed in a matter of days!
There were at least 3-4 varieties of grasshoppers. Some green, some brown and some black. At this point, I am not at all interested in learning species names, so I will stick with ID via color coding. One type, when it hopped, actually took off in flight and the way its legs spread out made it look like a butterfly. Kinda cool, actually…but such discovery was not worth the next hopper phase: Operation Clean Up!
After a week of this hopping invasion I was on cleanup control. This was a smelly, icky task that had to be done! I would grab the outside broom and sweep up the now dead hoppers, scoop them up and discard them in a large kitchen trash-bag. That plastic bag was filled with deceased grasshoppers after four days of sweeping. Mind you, this was only the sweep up of those on the porch, driveway and sidewalks.
By now I learned that a grasshopper lives for 10 days and gestation is 2 weeks, so I visited the local feed-store and got some spray in hops hopes of keeping the next round of generation II at a minimum. It worked! In the meantime, we have experienced quite a few new varieties of non-city bugs and spider in this first summer.
Lots of these yellow striped spiders around in June

Lots of these yellow striped spiders around in June

Curious praying mantis

Curious praying mantis

A wolf spider (we think)

A wolf spider (we think)

Moth caterpillar?

Moth caterpillar?

I have never seen such a big caterpillar.  Popped my  hand in to show its size...Grande

I have never seen such a big caterpillar. Popped my hand in to show its size…Grande

My husband channeled his inner boy and tossed a grasshopper into this spider web on the chicken coop. I had never seen this live and it sure beat some nature video! We try to leave these amazing webs alone.
Spider on the coop.  The zig-zags in the webs of these spiders is so interesting!

Spider on the coop. The zig-zags in the webs of these spiders is so interesting!

Watch this!  In a matter of seconds this spider darts over to a web-trapped grasshopper...

Watch this! In a matter of seconds this spider darts over to a web-trapped grasshopper…

Wraps the hopper up, "all snug-as-a-bug in MY web" thinks the spider and then....

Wraps the hopper up, “all snug-as-a-bug in MY web” thinks the spider and then….

The spider instantly makes its way back to his original spot.

The spider instantly makes its way back to his original spot.

I can only imagine the creepy crawly experiences of others that have been country living for longer than my rookie year. I would love to hear about it!

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2 responses to “Creepy Crawlies of the Country

  1. Our 1st year out here there was an epidemic of grasshoppers that would put this year to shame. Scared my kids to death. Love your story telling Sandra and welcome to the country!!

    • Oh, I can imagine how scary swarms of hoppers would be for little kids! Thanks for visiting here, Cheryl. (and) Thanks for your answers to loads of our first year questions.

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