- Thousands of Georgetown residents report being eaten out of house and home by these ravenous, 12-foot-tall grasshoppers.
Strolling down M Street in Georgetown the other day I spotted one of these fellows gripping the window of high-end plumbing shop Waterworks. The bug was about the size of my thumb, and didn't seem to be in any particular hurry as it slowly made its ascent up the glass.
A couple blocks later I encountered a woman staring intently at the window of Anthropologie. The object of her entrancement: Another grasshopper, fixed to the window of twee boutique Anthropologie. "I just think it's neat," she said. "I haven't seen one of these in forever."
I hadn't, either, outside of the cow-strewn country fields surrounding D.C. So what gives? Do D.C. residents navigating Georgetown now have to deal with a plague of Midwest tourists plus a plague of locusts?
For the insectoid 411, I went to the Smithsonian Institution's resident bug man, entomologist Gary Hevel. You may recall Hevel's name from an earlier discussion about winter insects invading houses. Here's his two cents on my ovipositing amigos:
The short-horned grasshopper (family Acrididae) in the photo is clearly in the genus Melanoplus, which contains dozens, possibly a hundred, species. There are a couple of common species, and this is the time of year that they become adults. They feed on a variety of vegetation, and can be expected in town gardens as well as cornfields and parks.
No need to send out an alarm unless you find gazillions trying to force their way into your office for the plants therein. As you probably know, when handled these insects defend themselves with a digestive liquid from their mouths, which is often termed “tobacco juice.” This action often deters predators and humans from bothering them further.
In general, grasshoppers and other insects with incomplete metamorphosis grow slowly during the year, shedding their skins a few times before adulthood, and looking like adults throughout their growing period, but without wings.
Hope this helps your curiosity.
Informative and entertaining! However, Hevel did not explain how these grasshoppers came to be 12 feet long and so interested in CB2: