Tales from the Morgue: A plague of grasshoppers

2013-05-20T11:30:00Z Tales from the Morgue: A plague of grasshoppersJohanna Eubank Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 20, 2013 11:30 am  • 

Tucson is probably a rest stop for many who pass through on the way east or west, but it seems unlikely the proud residents of the Old Pueblo ever expected millions of grasshoppers would stop here for a rest.

That is exactly what happened, though, and one might expect that the majority of Southern Arizonans weren't all that thrilled with the visitors.

The turkeys were probably the exception.

From the Arizona Daily Star, Jan. 23, 1949:

Grasshoppers by the Million Paying Short Visit to Tucson
__________

Trimerotropis Clan Comes Out of Sonoran Homes For Short Rest Here; Finds Local Lantana To Its Taste; Does Little Actual Harm
__________

Tucson played host to a few million visitors yesterday, but not the type sought by the Sunshine Climate club.

These visitors are grasshoppers and they are likely to remain a few days, but are not likely to do much damage, according to authorities.

Their formal name is trimerotropis, according to Dr. L. P. Wehrle, associate entomologist at the University of Arizona. And, while the type is known to damage such crops as vegetables, alfalfa, cotton and corn, the present invaders are apparently not doing much harm.

Here for Rest

Dr. Wehrle said they are "resting" and what little feeding they are doing is on lantana, an ornamental deciduous shrub.

Trimerotropis is one of the most abundant grasshoppers in the Sonoran zones, he said. They usually go on their migratory flights in June or July but are late this year.

They flocked into the city seeking the lights and congregated thickly in some spots. Central Dryv-In restaurant was covered with the insects early yesterday but most left by afternoon.

The insects were also thick in the downtown area.

Dr. J. N. Roney, state entomologist said the type is known as the "dust" grasshopper and that heavy rains might do a lot toward getting rid of the pests.

He also said there is little damage being done except for the nuisance from the hordes which swept into the city.

Dr. Wehrle said the type rarely remains long enough to warrant poisoning. Five per cent chlordane dust was recommended by Dr. Roney for anyone who wishes to take action to eliminate the hoppers before they leave of their own volition.

Asked about reports that the grasshoppers plaguing Nogales have disappeared from the border city, Dr. Roney said it is possible. But it is also possible that they may return there.

Areas other than Tucson have also had hordes of "lubber" and "boopadans" grasshoppers descend on them, Dr. Roney said.

The latter of these does more damage than other varieties, he added. The lubber type is so called because of the absence of wings which compels it to "lubber along."

Neither of the latter varieties has been observed in Tucson.

_____

HOPPER PLAGUE HAS BRIGHT SIDE

NOGALES, Aug. 22.—AP—One man at least finds a bright side to the grasshopper infestation here.

U. S. Immigration Officer Milford Noon raises turkeys.

"Their capacity for grasshoppers is amazing," says Noon. "And it is wonderful food for the birds. The hoppers are in reality a predigested form of grass."

 

Well, there you have it. The turkeys were happy and well fed. The rest of the residents of Tucson, Nogales and parts between had to watch their step.

Thanks to the elf for this article.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About this blog

Tales from the Morgue is a way for the Star to share stories from the treasure trove of information held in its old files.

Johanna Eubank, aka the Morgue Lady, was a research assistant in the Star Library - also known as News and Research Services - for 18 years before becoming an online content producer. She has had her share of sneezing fits after digging into dusty old files, so she's sure to find a few old stories to re-examine.

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about this blog, e-mail jeubank@tucson.com.

Featured businesses

View more...

Deals, offers & events

View more...