Alas, poor grasshopper…
In July we drove into central Oregon to attend the wedding of our friends, Katrina and Terry. At the end of the weekend, after we’d loaded up the car, checked out, and so forth, I had just started the car and was preparing to back out of our parking space, when I saw the teeniest, tiniest, bright green grasshopper-like bug clinging to the cowling around my driver’s side mirror. I had seen a few similar bugs on the outer wall of the hotel and clinging to some of the other cars in the parking lot. They were all so tiny. I thought it was adorable.
Later, one of the times we stopped along the way back, I noticed as I was reaching to open the door, that what appeared to be the same bug was clinging to the mirror. As soon as I started to move the door, it darted to the edge of the mirror and then inside. I wondered if it was the same bug, or just that another of its species had happened to land on the mirror.
Another time that we stopped on the trip, I saw the bug again, still hanging on the sideview mirror.
We had some really horrible traffic during the last 100 or so miles home, taking far longer than it should have for us to get home, so by the time we got home I was exhausted and a little cranky. So I had completely forgotten about the little green grasshopper.
A few days later, I saw what appeared to be the exact same bug clinging to the wall inside our bathroom, near the open window.
The thing is that, since moving to Seattle, I don’t think I’ve seen any grasshoppers, at all. There are all sorts of flies and beetles and other bugs I see on walls, trees, around my flowers and tomato plants, but nothing that looks like a grasshopper, and certainly nothing like this intense green little guy. So now I was thinking, maybe he hitched a ride all the way back to Seattle from Springfield?
Over the course of the next couple months I would see it again, usually hanging out inside our bathroom. I figure it must be the one place it can count on getting water whenever it wants, and we often have the window open, and one of the neighbors’ trees has branches hanging really close to said window, so if it feeds on plants, there is a ready food supply.
Slowly he got bigger. Not huge, he was still what most would call tiny. But definitely getting bigger. And, I still never saw more of these bugs anywhere else in the neighborhood. Of course, I can’t be certain that I was always seeing the same bug, but I never see two of them together, and the only place I’ve seen the bug since we got back from that trip is around our place.
Saturday morning I was supposed to be cleaning the house and prepping for an editorial work party. But I threw out my back the previous weekend, and my sore back has been recovering very slowly all week long. Saturday morning, in particular, I woke with definite spasming in the back, and didn’t feel like doing anything. So I sat for a while with a heating pad on my back, trying not to feel too cranky about stuff I should be doing.
When my husband woke up, he mentioned that he had a really bad headache. Neither of us felt like working on the clean up. I had been trying to muster up enough motivation to go get us something for breakfast (having found nothing we had in the kitchen quite appealing). So I suggested, “You know what, we should go to the diner down the street and have a sit-down breakfast. I think it would get us both in a better mood for the day.”
And he said, “I think I should take a shower first. Maybe holding my head under the hot water will help.”
And I figured some hot water on my back might help with that, too, so I joined him.
And there was the tiny green grasshopper on one wall of the shower stall. I pointed him out to Michael, and told him about having been watching him for the last few months. Michael thought it was amusing if the bug had ridden back from Springfield with us. A few moments later the grasshopper had vanished. We were taking turns scrubbing each other’s back. And I spent a minute or so with my head under the stream. We were going to change positions when I saw the little grasshopper on the floor of the tub, about four inches behind Michael’s heel.
And my brain barely had time to register the position when Michael shifted his foot.
I made a kind of “Eep!” sound.
Michael asked what was wrong. And I explained that I thought he had just stepped on the little grasshopper.
Sure enough, the crushed body of the bug was there, on the floor of the tub.
According to what I read on line, a grasshopper typically lives about 80-100 days after hatching before they die. About half of that time they are a nymph, which is basically a tiny, wingless version of their adult self. The day it met its demise, was 76 days after I first saw it. So if it is a grasshopper (and not some other species of insect that simply resembles a grasshopper), it very well may have been about to die of old age any day now, anyway. So I probably shouldn’t feel too bad for it.
If it is a species that doesn’t normally live in Seattle, he or she probably didn’t find a mate, so it is unlikely that there will be a little swarm of tiny green grasshoppers near our house next July.
But I’m going to keep my eyes peeled next summer, just in case.