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The Kansas Government Information (KGI) Online Library
Kansas government publications, resources and information available from the State Library of Kansas

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May 03

Battling the Grasshopper in the 1870s

Posted on May 3, 2018 at 10:55 AM by Bill Sowers

“...Stretch out your hand over Egypt so that locusts swarm over the land and devour everything growing in the fields"  Exodus 10:12

Like a plague of biblical proportions locusts (grasshoppers) descended upon the fields of Kansas during the 1870s bringing with them devastating consequences for farmers, ranchers and truly the entire economic structure of the state. State government took an aggressive stance in battling the insects as witnessed by this 1877 publication (with a very wordy title) compiled by the Kansas State Board of Agriculture:

"Compilation by the secretary of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture of the manner and means heretofore employed for the extermination of the grasshopper : in pursuance of section 5, of an act entitled "An act to provide for the destruction of grasshoppers," etc., approved March 6, 1877 : together with a synposis of county data, and a recommendation of special crops"

This 20 page booklet gives the reader an idea of the destruction wrought by the grasshoppers and the means which were used in trying to control the pests at that time.  You can view this publication online at the State Library of Kansas' KGI Online Library here:

Compilation by the secretary of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture... (1877)
http://cdm16884.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p16884coll113/id/296/rec/1

For further online information we suggest the following links:

Kansas Memory (Primary sources online from the Kansas Historical Society)
http://www.kansasmemory.org/category/5851

The Grasshoppers of Kansas (1917)
https://archive.org/details/grasshoppersofka00claa

The more destructive grasshoppers of Kansas (1897)
https://archive.org/details/moredestructiveg00snow

Grasshoppered: America's Response to the 1874 Rocky Mountain Locust Invasion
(Nebraska State Historical Society)
https://history.nebraska.gov/sites/history.nebraska.gov/files/doc/publications/NH2008Grasshoppered.pdf