Grasshopper infestation forces livestock sales in 15 states


We’ve used the examples of how heat and cold can take more livestock in a few days than wolves do in a year.

In following up on our continuing efforts to highlight the absurdly disproportionate media coverage that flares up whenever news of a predator taking a few livestock happens,  I thought I’d post the story below about insects.

Grasshopper infestation forces livestock sales in 15 states

“This year we had a good start but they just took it,” said Tubbs [rancher], 57. “The grasshoppers have taken it down to the dirt. They’ve eaten everything but the cactus.”

Jon Marvel reincarnate ?
Insects are an important part of the ecosystem
This news of grasshopper swarms also dispels one of the common ‘cowboy myths’, namely, that if cattle or sheep do not eat the grass then it will get “wolfy”, “decadent”, and otherwise die out of its own accord.  Not true.

Helbig said his agency [USDA – APHIS] has a program set up to protect forage in 17 western states. The federal government covers the cost of spraying federal land, pays 50 percent of the cost on state land and pays a third on private land, he said.

While APHIS, agricultural interests, and their chemical company contractors spend your tax-dollars studying and annually poisoning the water and land trying to eradicate swarms of insects they grew by cultivating alfalfa and other insect food in the desert try to remember:

Grasshoppers are native grazers in the West.  Unlike cattle and sheep, grasshoppers do not compact the soil, sheer stream-banks, desertify the landscape and otherwise denude the natural environment.  To the contrary, grasshoppers are important contributors to the food base for many wildlife species and birds.  The “problem” of their ‘boom/bust’ cycles now is more indicative of the sisyphean effort big agriculture has inflicted upon itself in trying force monocultures of wet plants for cattle and other livestock that evolved in wet environments upon the desert.

Another of a seemingly infinite reasons that ranchers whine for subsidies about what amounts to the inherent inability of this private economic endeavor to compete with the natural world if it were to have to stand on its own two feet – without your tax-dollars.

(Thanks to Alan Gregory for the link)






  1. Anthony Avatar

    I’m glad to hear something other than cows are getting some of the forage on the range. At least grasshoppers don’t leave pies that sit there for ten years!

  2. kt Avatar

    Go hoppers!

    Great You Tube, Brian.

  3. mikepost Avatar

    You two cold-hearted cynics really don’t understand the full ramifications of this, do you. This is not just about public grazing leases, but private family businesses including organic farms as well as public parks and wildlife areas. Cows are but one small aspect of this kind of event.

  4. Brian Ertz Avatar

    we all have jobs – so many have lost theirs. This article was about Livestock – look at the title if you’re not interested in reading the content – and given its announcing the federal government intends to pay to spray poison to eradicate the swarm, on private but including on federal & state public wildlands – I think it’s fair to suggest the subject isn’t refering to the organic operation.

    I’m sick of the rampant exceptionalism and implicit, if not explicit, vilification of the natural world granted corporate entities who choose to conduct their enterprise in conflict with the environment.

    There are alternatives that work in tandem with the natural order of things. Unfortunately, the degree that tax-dollars continue to bail out those in conflict from the consequences of their choice to fight the natural world contributes to the lessened competitiveness of the ways of growing food that is sustainable.

    Growing grass/alfalfa for livestock in the desert is not sustainable on many fronts. Got a problem with that ? Andrew Bird (Youtube above) plays a mean violin …

  5. mikepost Avatar

    Well Brian, you better send your comment to the bugs because they don’t know that they are suppossed to only eat livestock feed on public grazing leases. The article is specific, but the problem is global, your bias is not relevant. Perhaps neither are your comments…

  6. Ryan Avatar

    “Another of a seemingly infinite reasons that ranchers whine for subsidies about what amounts to the inherent inability of this private economic endeavor to compete with the natural world if it were to have to stand on its own two feet – without your tax-dollars.”


    Here is where you are wrong, not that i am a fan of goverment subsidies, but what do you expect people to eat when the food prices go through the roof.

  7. Anthony Avatar

    Ryan, eat the grasshoppers. They are probably better for you and cheaper.

  8. janina pawlowski Avatar

    I saw firsthand the effects of grasshoppers post 9/11. They are a symptom of a monoculture. If you grow only one or two crops, remove all the trees so birds have no where to land, and spray with pesticides to eliminate other insects, you will create problems. Grasshoppers are a symptom, just as swollen tonsils are a symptom.

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Brian Ertz