Friday, May 09, 2008

An Epilogue to the Jenna Bush wedding post

In the first paragraph of yesterday’s post, you’ll notice I made an allusion to “some sort of grasshopper genocide.” I was referencing a real life event in Central Texas a few years back where I was required to drive through a large field filled with tall weeds. The trip resulted in the tragic death of about 3000 grasshoppers.

In the original draft I had hoped to use whatever adjective means “of or pertaining to grasshoppers” similar to the way that, say, catarrhine means “of or pertaining to Old World Monkeys.” But seriously, can you picture me driving through a field full of Crab-eating Macaques in a rented Hyundai Sonata! Imagine the slaughter!

Anyway, I couldn’t find the grasshopper word anywhere on the internet or in this huge dictionary I bought at an estate sale. I’m sure the word existed; it’s just that some government agency or big-brained scientist hadn’t written it down anywhere. But then I thought to myself “Why not cut to the chase and ask a big-brained scientist who also works for the government?”

Good morning [USDA scientist who, according to several websites, is one of our nation’s three première experts on grasshoppers],

This may seem like an odd question but is there a term that means "of or relating to grasshoppers?" Similar to the way canine or equine or porcine are the respective adjectives for dogs, horses and pigs?

Unfortunately, I was recently involved in the inadvertent deaths of many grasshoppers. I wish to use the correct term when filling out the resulting paperwork.

I hope this is not too absurd a question.

Thanks for your time,


I will no longer criticize the bureaucracy of the US Government. I received this response in less than two hours.


It is not an absurd question. Grasshoppers are in the order of insects called Orthoptera (which also includes katydids and crickets). But the group of grasshoppers we think of as a “typical” grasshopper are called acridids (or short-horned grasshoppers) because they are in the family Acrididae. So acridids would be somewhat similar in usage to canine which refers to the family Canidae. There is no identical type term that I know of. (ex Acridology is the science of studying grasshoppers, Acridologist is a scientist studying grasshoppers)


[Awesome government scientist]

There you have it. The reason I couldn’t find the term is because it doesn’t exist. And it’s why yesterday’s post appeared the way it did.

Isn’t science the best?

*Letter slightly altered to protect identities and, to be quite honest, funnier.

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