I planted 64 Lavender Grosso plants this spring. The classic Provençal image of row upon purply row of lavender disappearing in parallel precision to a single point, danced in my futuristic dream of splendid bliss. Evenings spent on the patio, wine in hand, bees buzzing drunkenly amongst wafting stalks of blue buds, were to be manifest by the end of autumn.
Reality. The grasshopper blight has dashed our small, purple farm into oblivion. Where did I read lavender plants are deer, rabbit AND grasshopper resistant? No doubt from a dubious “information site” on the Internet. These grasshoppers must be a sub-species of the rugged “Whitewater Strain” with titanium-jaws and asbestos-lined-stomachs. I’m making light of this, but as they attach their bloated bodies to my shirt, hair, and jeans with saw-like legs, I have meltdowns, tantrums and tears.
There are too many birds, lizards, snakes and small mammals sharing our land to use chemical pesticides. We upset the eco-balance blading the topsoil to build our house, and an aftermath wave of hoppers and noxious weeds fills the void.
Grasshoppers thrive in hot, dry weather. People who survived the 1930s Dust Bowl on the American plains tell stories of swarms of hoppers eradicating fields, trees, and farm implements. Crops were destroyed in mere hours amidst a terrifying black cloud of munching jaws that ate and ate and ate…
Reality. A seven-year drought coupled with disturbing the land were ripe conditions for hoppers to procreate en masse. I can see in my mind’s eye a mother hopper putting her youngster to bed with a sweet bedtime story, “The Roaring 2019 Hopper-Boom” of yesteryear. A cheerful hopper gala with attendees in formal dress, drinking champagne, eating mini-toasts spread with lavender paste and other assorted green pestos, illustrates the book.
Meanwhile, out in the field, Chief, our toughest, roughest badass mule is covered with infected pustules from other flying insects. I cover him with a greasy, oil-based ointment so the little buggers will drown before they can get to his tender skin. Initially, he wouldn’t let me near him with the goo, but he now sighs contentedly as I slather him up. Strangely, his horse friends are not as ruthlessly targeted by the marauding pests.