I met Diane Sward Rapaport while I served as writer-in-residence in Harney County, Oregon, in 2009. She has led a colorful life, not the least of which includes managing the band The Pointer Sisters in the 1980s, and has written a number of books about the music industry. Diane mentioned that I missed grasshoppers in my section about insect pests, and she is right! I’ve started a list of things to add in case there is ever a second edition of Get Your Pitchfork On! Meanwhile, I asked her to fill us in.
This is the first of, hopefully, many guest posts. If you are interested in appearing on the GYPO blog, please let me know. Share your moving-to-the-country experience!
Diane is currently working on a book about her time in Arizona entitled Home Sweet Jerome. This post is an excerpt:
How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers
By Diane Sward Rapaport
During a grasshopper infestation in Jerome, Arizona, in the early 1980s, I asked local gardeners what to do and got a number of answers:
1. Shake some diatomaceous earth on your plants. It contains ground-up skeletons of algae-like plants called diatoms, which contain lots of calcium, silica and other trace minerals. When the grasshoppers eat this, it cuts their intestines to pieces and they die.
2. Use an environmentally safe product like Nolo Bait, which infects them and cuts down on germination.
3. Distribute bottles containing one part molasses with ten parts water. The grasshoppers will jump in and not jump out.
4. Spray your plants with a mixture of soap and hot chile peppers.
5. Put garlic in a food blender, mix with water and spray it on the plants.
6. Go out early in the morning when the grasshoppers are sluggish and gather a bunch of them. Put in a blender and spray the plants with the mixture.
7. Get a battery-operated tone generator tuned to a frequency they don’t like.
8. Use more mulch so they can’t hatch.
9. Plant enough for you and the grasshoppers.
10. Put a larger fence around your garden and keep chickens. The chickens will eat the grasshoppers, and besides, then you’ll have fresh eggs and lots of fertilizer.
11. Get toads. Toads will eat anything that moves. There’s a lot of ‘em down at the Verde River.
12. Spray the plants with hair spray. They hate it.
13. Spread powdered sugar on the ground. The grasshoppers will eat that instead.
14. Connect a hose to the exhaust of your car, start it up, and hose ‘em with carbon monoxide.
15. Sprinkle bran on the plants. They eat it and explode.
16. Poison ‘em with Malathion 50 (or other insecticide).
17. “I don’t know. But I’m going to need an answer soon!”
18. If all else fails, you can eat them. Fry them up in a little olive oil—crunchy and tasty if you have good stuff growing in your garden.
After eighteen suggestions for entirely different solutions, I stopped asking. I understood why Jerome is sometimes called a town of 400 people and a thousand opinions.