Grasshopper

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

grasshopper the name used for insects of the families Acrididae and Tettigoniidae. The first of these families is that in which the species bearing the name locust occur; this name applies to those grasshoppers which are capable of swarming in immense numbers, and is used of them while they are so swarming. The second family includes some but by no means all of the insects which bear the name cricket.

Discussions of the extent to which grasshoppers provide food for human beings overlaps, inevitably, with information about consumption of locusts and crickets. Indeed the terminology for the whole category of orthopterous insects is confusing; see also, for example, cicada. However, it is not uncommon to find references to the eating of ‘grasshoppers’, such as the following from Bodenheimer (1951), quoting a missionary who was writing about the Shoshoco tribe in N. America:

The principal portion of the Shoshoco territory is covered with Artemisia, in which the grasshoppers swarm by the myriads, and these parts are consequently most frequented by the tribe. When they are sufficiently numerous they hunt together. They begin by digging a hole, 10 or 12 feet in diameter, by 4 or 5 feet deep; then, armed with long branches of Artemisia, they surround a field of 3 or 4 acres … They stand about 20 feet apart … to beat the ground, so as to frighten up the grasshoppers and make them bound forward … into the hole prepared for their reception. Their number is so considerable that frequently 3 or 4 acres furnish grasshoppers sufficient to fill the hole. … Some eat the grasshoppers in soup, or boiled; others crush them, and make a kind of paste from them which they dry in the sun or before the fire; others eat them en appalas—that is, they make pointed rods and string the largest ones on them; afterwards these rods are fixed in the ground before the fire, and as they become roasted, the poor Shoshocos regale themselves until the whole are devoured.