Spring has officially sprung in my yard. I saw the first small black grasshoppers. I froze. (Play the theme from ‘Jaws’ now) It’s that time of the year when you can almost hear the munching sounds of tiny mouths as they chew through your yesterday, today and tomorrow. They get noticeably larger each day, in my mind growing to the size of a cargo container.

Any creature related in any way to any of the 7 plagues of Egypt was not welcome in my garden.

I had been hand watering the new plants I had placed so lovingly in a garden where I had also placed small pictures of grasshoppers with a vertical slash through them. Somehow, I didn’t think my ruse would work because last year something had partially eaten some of the little pictures and there seemed to be grasshopper spittle in the vicinity. A sure giveaway!

I don’t know what you call a group of grasshoppers. A slew? A gang? A herd? There were a lot of them, happily eating away, unaware that a human was looking at them with extreme malice. It looked like they were making the best comeback since Martha Stewart. I have loathed anything with an exoskeleton. It dates back to the movie ‘Alien’. You can’t put off trying to rid yourself of these pests.

Distracted by nature’s feeding frenzy, and as the dark beasts gorged themselves on my succulents, without even thinking, I nimbly drew my hand along the slim leaf, snatched them up, threw them on the ground and used my shoe as executioner. I’m not normally a violent type and I reasoned a creature that tiny would not have a nervous system complex enough to feel pain.

I know that nature dictates they’ll be back. I hoped those few that escaped would communicate to their brethren about the massacre through a series of leg squeaks or easily heard noises by rubbing their hind femurs against their abdomen. Yes, Wikipedia is a wealth of information.

You who live in high rise apartments are not immune to the scourge. I’ve heard of adult hoppers leaping upward from balcony to balcony yes, and gasping for air in the rarified atmosphere as it leaps to penthouse level. When your Nassella Tenuissima starts to disappear at night while you sleep, you’ve got one who has conquered Everest. Take a photo, rip its little oxygen mask off and then kill it.

I don’t know where they go at night, but if they get together with their children around the shelter of a Tripsacum Floridana I hope they gather close and tell the tale of giant creatures with a 10EEE sole which come down like thunder on poor unsuspecting hatchlings.