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Jun 7, 2012
05:09 PM

The Great Summer Grasshopper Plague

Neighborhood kids collected tons of the insects, which had hatched like crazy. And, one fateful day, one girl's yard turned into a bug battleground!

The Great Summer Grasshopper Plague

For about one week near the end of my eighth summer, the grasshopper population in our neighborhood exploded. Hundreds of the insects clung to shrubs and hid between blades of grass. Me and the swarms of kids living in the neighborhood began a mission to collect as many as we could. We stuffed them into jars, Tupperware – any containers we could find in our kitchen cupboards and on garage shelves. We poked holes in the tops of the containers and hoped the grasshoppers could survive the habitat of grass and water drops we provided them. A few of the grasshoppers we affectionately named, as one would name a cherished pet – but our ultimate plan for the bugs was unclear.

This changed one day when my mother announced she would be leaving my older sister in charge so she could run to the grocery store. Soon after Mom left, a plan unfolded that would entail two opposing forces of neighborhood kids meeting at my temporarily parentless house to release fistfuls of grasshoppers at each other. It seemed like a good idea – an excellent way to end the long days of collecting the hoppers.

And, it was fun.

Laughter rung out, as well as screams of disgust as the released insects stuck in each other's hair and clothes.

But war is bloody – and in the chaos of the grasshopper blizzard, a broken mayonnaise jar resulted in a minor finger cut for one of the troops. Worse yet, my mother returned home just as the injury occurred. She was furious. Perhaps her fury was driven by the sight of hundreds of grasshoppers pinging around our yard, the bloody finger – or the fact that a great many of her plastic storage containers now lay in ruins.

Whatever mom's wrath, it was all worth it. The summer of the grasshopper plague lives on in my memory as one of the greatest summers of my life.

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