Post last updated: October 10th, 2018

Linda Cunningham wanted to compare one of my plants to hers because mine had a different name. So I took some cuttings which I put in a bucket of water to keep them from melting before I could get to her house. I belted the bucket into the front seat beside me to avoid any unwanted adventures on the way over there. I should have known it was impossible to avoid an adventure. Before I could even crank the car, a green grasshopper flew out of the cuttings and landed on my steering wheel giving me one of those beady-eyed insect looks. I was so startled, I screamed. I couldn’t help it, okay? Thankfully, Poppie got into a bad batch of hearing aid batteries. He was sitting on his back porch right by the garage and it would have been embarrassing if he had come to my aid over a grasshopper.

I pulled a map of Atlanta from the crack next to the seat and whacked him out of the car with enough force to cannonball him into the next county if the garage hadn’t been there to stop him.

At Cunningham’s, I watched with fascinated awe at the level of her courage compared to mine. Whenever she encountered one of those monstrous Eastern Lubber Grasshoppers, she picked it off the plant with her bare hands and called her dog, Milo.

Eastern Lubber GrasshopperPhoto Credit: Linda Cunningham
Eastern Lubber Grasshopper
Photo Credit: Linda Cunningham

Milo would come running and promptly dispatch the grasshopper with two shakes of his head and a toothy crunch to its neck. First time I have ever thought about getting a dog.

Milo with grasshopperPhoto Credit: Linda Cunningham
Milo with grasshopper
Photo Credit: Linda Cunningham

African Blue Basil has been on my “want list” ever since I saw it at a Duval County Extension Agent class 3 or 4 years ago. It is a sterile (does not produce seeds) perennial basil with a strong camphor scent but that didn’t bother me. I wanted it for its non-food properties —  it blooms profusely with very tall flower spikes that attract all kinds of bees and other pollinators.  African Blue Basil probably needs staking unless you aggressively pinch or cut it back. It tends to flop all over and part in the middle.

African Blue Basil close-up
African Blue Basil close-up
African Blue Basil spike with very small butterfly
African Blue Basil spike with very small butterfly

It’s inability to produce seeds is probably why it’s hard to find but I finally got some. Tell everyone! Linda Cunningham has African Blue Basil! Don’t forget that Cunningham’s is open year round by appointment. You can get her phone number and directions here.

Late breaking news: Linda Cunningham informed me today that Milo’s annihilation of grasshoppers is over. She took him to the vet and learned his inflamed mouth is caused by the toxic juice grasshoppers give off. Milo’s grasshopper vet bill exceeded the others, too. Short-lived occupation as a Grasshopper Dispatcher.


  1. These things drive me CRAZY, and they are vile. So destructive in my garden on plants that are part of my family’s legacy.

    I “tennis shoe” them @ every opportunity.

    God bless Milo for being such a warrior – Retired w/honors.

    1. Laugh out loud! Retired with honors. Linda Cunningham will enjoy that one. Vile is a good descriptor. Best time of year to tennis shoe them is in the spring when they hatch as little black hoppers with a red racing stripe down the back. Easier to dispatch as juveniles. I’ll bet they don’t even have these things up north. They don’t have lizards up there.

  2. My husband calls grasshoppers “aliens” . If you look at them, they do look like a creature from a good ol’ sci-fi movie. I call them “wee beasties” and whack the stew out of them…
    African Blue is a favorite!
    Plant exchange is coming…I’ll let you know.


    1. Anti-critter issues? Now lissen up Kimmie, it’s a MIRACLE that I can garden at all. I can remember trying to garden as a 5-year-old until I dug up one of those nasty white grub worms. That was the end of my gardening career for many years. It didn’t come up again until I was 30-something. While I do have issues with any number of critters, I think my acceptance of some of them is a very positive move in the right direction. 😆

  3. Oh my word! I hate when grasshoppers jump on me when I’m mowing the yard … and spit their tobaccy juice (TOXIC?! No less) on me. How are you with praying mantis? They give me the uber heebie jeebies! I had no idea that nasty tobaccy was harmful to dogs.

    1. YUCK! Marla, I was living in blissful ignorance of ‘hopper tobaccy juice until you had to go and bring it up. I posted a photo of a praying mantis sometime last summer. I wasn’t too freaked out about him but he didn’t jump on me, either.

  4. Another great adventure!! Today was to hot too do anything but sit on my couch. My friend Tess picks the grasshoppers off of her plants but I don’t even look for them. Every now and then my cat brings me a surprise and I have to get out the shovel. But I am like you, I don’t do grasshoppers!!! Stay cool.

    1. Betty – You aren’t kidding about the heat. I’ve got some kind of weather “app” on this ancient laptop. The info comes out of New York, I think, and they were claiming it was 99. Even now, at 8:45, they seem to think it is 98. I was out in the yard 9:30-10:30 picking up limbs so Poppie could mow but he talked himself out of it. Can’t blame him.

      1. Nope! My parents used to stick the garden hose in whatever hole they were found crawling out of, and just turn the water on full blast. It seemed the best way to kill them – before they get too numerous and too big.

          1. The ones in our yard would come up through a hole near our maple tree, and another in the front near the mailbox. When you see a mess of the babies, kill them then and try to find where they’re crawling up from. Once you locate that, throw a bomb down there or something. Even IFAS noted these were hard to kill!

  5. Ahhh, my dear, YOU are too kind!! Some Wee beasties can bite the pooh out of you and when I say it, I do have a brogue from another land… Kind of like William Wallace when he would yell “FREEDOM!!!” at the English back in the day…

  6. Oh, Poor Milo. Poor you, attacked by Lubbers.

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  7. I love all the comments. I grew up in Chicago and we did have green grasshoppers but I don’t remember lizards and I didn’t leave Chicago until I went into the Navy. We didn’t have a lot of things in the north that we have here in Florida. I think it gets too cold and kills everything off and that’s how we survive.

    1. It’s not fair. I don’t want HALF the bugs and critters we’ve got here. What’s that bug that’s all black with wings and a tail like a dragonfly but much smaller? I saw a similar flying thing — brown and about a half inch long — on the garage door the other day. My reaction was, “Now what? More weird bugs?”

  8. Thank the good Lord that you were parked in the garage when the grasshopper flew out. Who knows what kind of chain reaction catastrophe you would have caused had the grasshopper flew onto your steering wheel while driving.

    1. Well, Ms. Priss, it couldn’t have been any worse than the local Coca-Cola truck driver who claimed a bee flew in his truck cab causing him to plow into and demolish a building so bad that it had to be torn down. Poppie and I have laughed continuously over that one. I recently had a bee in my car — I kept hearing buzzing noises — and I just opened the windows. With this green grasshopper, it was the surprise element that got the better of me. I wish I had Linda Cunningham’s bug and snake courage.

  9. Green grasshoppers don’t bother me a bit. I used to catch them bare-handed to feed to our pet lizard, named Spot-Spike. Those big dark things though…I confess that I am truly fearful of them. And the thought of squishing them is beyond horrible. Poor Milo, I could have told him those things were evil!

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