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LaVO: Legends of the fall

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25.11.2019

A childhood squabble over a remarkable insect led to the “Grasshoppe War” in Upper Bucks.


While looking over old historical records, I recently came across a Native American folktale of what has come to be called the Grasshopper War of 1730. Possession of a particularly beautiful grasshopper resulted in bloody conflict between two Lenape Indian villages in Upper Bucks with unforeseen consequences.

The story attracted my curiosity because grasshoppers were an annual feature of my childhood in the central valley of California. Out there, they’re known as locusts for their tendency to swarm in the summer.

I remember the hoppers as large and tan in color, a perfect camouflage in the desert-like environment. The fascination for us kids in Merced was the insects’ ability to blend in with the ground until they hopped away as you approached on foot.

My neighborhood pal Adrian, whose parents came from Mexico, offered me a toasted locust as a crunchy, high protein snack. Called chapulines, they are popular in some areas south of the border. Unlike me, Adrian seemed to enjoy them.

Cooking up some grasshoppers for a Thanksgiving hors d'oeuvre had nothing to do with the Grasshopper War in Upper Bucks, however.

The Eastern grasshopper is unlike a California........

© The Intelligencer