11 May 2010

Plague of Locusts? Not Quite.

While a plague of locusts sounds like fun, I'm getting plenty of entertainment with our recently elevated numbers of nsenene, a local name for a type of grasshopper in the katydid family. (I learned today that they are all grasshoppers, but short-horned grasshoppers are locusts and long-horned grasshoppers are katydids.) Last week I noticed maybe a handful of them over the course of several days. This morning as I walked through my office compound they were everywhere, alive clinging to walls and dead on the ground.

According to wikipedia, where everything is always true, they are a tasty treat in Uganda "and surrounding countries." I haven't seen anyone here eating them, but we are a surrounding country so maybe folks are chowing down. Apparently though, pregnant women should not eat them because the baby will become deformed, in the shape of a grasshopper. So I'm keeping my mouth shut.

Bugs don't really bother me but I could live without these guys and gals flying off walls and into my face and hair when I walk by.

Their appearance is a sign that the long dry season is on the way. It's not really my favorite season, but it's the last time I'll be seeing all these signs, at least here in Burundi. Mr. and Mrs. Ibis returned last weekend; I heard their call early Sunday morning. And the kingfisher is back. So are the giant frogs. All these seasonal creatures that I didn't realize I'd missed until I noticed they were back.


dona said...

I noticed that you have own seasons there in Burundi. How many seasons do you have during the year and how are they named? Could you tell something more? Greetings from Italy.

Shannon said...

I think I could live without them too. I ran across a picture of a boy returning from hunting with a bunch of grasshoppers on a peace corps blog out of Malawi, so I guess they eat them there. I think I will pass, thank you. Ugggh!

Giant frogs, Ibis, kingfishers, all cool. I hope they have those in Malawi (heading there this summer) but the grasshoppers give me the creeps.

A Daring Adventure said...

Oh, absolutely, I would rather not have these bugs flying into MY face and hair, also! Ick...

Stephanie said...

Dona, we have a long wet season, long dry season, short wet season, and short dry season. We're just coming out of the long wet season, heading into the long dry season.

Shannon, unfortunately in order to have all the wonderful birds, we need to also have all the bugs for them to eat. I have a pact with the bugs that I won't bother them if they don't bother me, but some of these grasshoppers are not keeping up their end of the bargain.

Cara Lopez Lee said...

Sorry, but I can't help but chuckling at your expense, Stephanie, thinking of those katydids jumping on you and startling you. I have a friend for whom grasshoppers are a sort of totem, and mine is a praying mantis, so I love seeing these types of large insects that seem to have personality... but it would freak me out to have them constantly jumping on me!

Thanks for the photos. They look different from any grasshoppers I've ever seen. I've heard that the short-horned grasshoppers are only called locusts when they swarm. Do you know if that's the case?


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