Grasshopper Plagues in Missouri

 Actual Missouri Remarks

The years from 1874-1876 brought hordes of grasshoppers to many Missouri counties. Here are some actual letters and newspaper accounts reported to Missouri's entomologist C.V. Riley:

St. Joseph, MO.

"In some localities the locusts have taken the corn and where clean, and in other localities there has been little or no damage as yet. Some are planting their gardens and corn over, and think the hoppers will leave the country before they can do damage to the second crop." The Richmond Conservator, May 29, 1875

Easton, MO

"... our prospects are gloomy indeed. I think by the time the hoppers leave here they will have devoured everything green. The crops are about all destroyed now, together with meadows and pastures. The country would present the appearance of winter if it were not for the folliage of the timber. The leaves are all stripped off the hazel bushes... My crops are all gone - fifty acres of corn, the same amount of wheat, twenty acres of oats and fifty acres of meadow. The most of the meadows are killed outright. Much of the stock is being taken north into Gentry, DeKalb and other counties. It would astonish you to see the courage of the farmers, the surroundings considered. J. S. Talbot, Easton, Buchanon County, MO, June 7, 1875

Rockport, MO

"The locusts are taking every green thing as fast as it appears above the ground in this part of the county, say ten or twelve miles from the river. Beyond that I am told there is little small grain, vegetables and corn. Most of the county shows as little sign of vegetation as it did in March, except the trees. All the small fruit is gone, they have even eaten the weeds." Mr. R. Bottom, letter, May, 1875

Platte County, Missouri

"No fair held this year. Reason - grasshoppers." Annals of Platte County by Paxton, 1897. Reported in August, 1875.

Carthage, MO.

"Grasshoppers made their appearance in this county again on the 2d of October. The wind was blowing from the southwest during the day. About noon they came into the city; the sky was darkened with them. They soon covered the entire county, and at once began their onslaught upon the wheat fields..... In a few days, scarcely a spear of wheat was to be seen over the entire county. However, at the close of November they began to leave; and large quantities of them were found dead; many seeming to have been destroyed by an insect. They deposited their eggs, some of which hatched out during the warm days in November. In some of the late sown fields the wheat seems to be starting again; and some farmers have resown portions of their fields, in the hope that a favorable winter will secure a crop. The eastern line seems to have extended to the west of Green county." Josiah Tilden, Nov. 20, 1876

Reeds, MO.

On the 2d of October the grasshoppers made their first appearance here, coming from southwest and going northeast, in such numbers as to, in a measure, obscure the sun's rays. They stayed here in millions, until killed by cold; eating up all growing wheat and green grass. The ground was perforated in all directions with innumerable holes, and I suppose they deposited eggs in great abundance. We are in the eastern part of the county a few miles from the Lawrence county line. J.M.Thornburg, Dec 8, 1876

Granby, MO.

Myriad's of grasshoppers were passing over Granby, from southwest to northeast on Sunday and Monday, the 8th and 9th. A glance upward towards the sun revealed them filling the air as far as vision could extend, as thick as snowflakes in a storm, and they drifted along with the breeze, and fluttered down at your feet occasionally, or lit on your nose, with as much unconcern as if they had been a part of the elements. The bushes and sides of the road were speedily thick with them. St. Louis Republican, Oct. 1, 1876

Smithfield, MO.

The locusts were all over the county in great numbers. They laid a great many eggs, but as most of them hatched out this Fall, I apprehend no trouble next Spring. They came in September, and stayed until killed by frost. No wheat recovered, as far as I know. Farmers generally resowed, but the wheat has not come up. WM. G. L. Criag, Dec. 26, 1876.

Hickman Mills, MO.

There were no Rocky Mountain locusts in this county the past Fall, and, per consequence, no eggs deposited. Chinch bugs were seen in the early fall. W.S. Parrish, Dec. 4 1876.

Oregon, MO.

The locusts extended all over our county. They came from the N.W. about September 20th. The ground is fuller of eggs than ever before. All the wheat was taken up; rye also. A few resowed, but it makes no show. They stayed here until frozen to death. Bennet King, Dec. 25, 1876.

Stockton, MO.

The grasshoppers came to this county in October, and remained until the snow came and destroyed them. They laid eggs all the time they were here, and ate all the wheat in the county. G.W. Montgomery, Dec. 2, 1876.

Rocky Mountain Locust Natural History
Grasshopper Gathering Equipment
Actual Missouri Accounts
Grasshoppers and a Sense of Humor
Destitute Settlers
Were they all bad?
Grasshoppers and Trains
Do we still have Grasshopper Plagues?
Missouri Legislation
What can we learn from the Grasshopper Plagues?
Damage Estimates and Restitution
Grasshopper Plague links

This page was designed and is maintained by Aaron Rieder and Lyndon N. Irwin.