The internet has been in an uproar given the delayed appearance of the beautiful and delicious delicacy that we locally call ‘nsenene.’ Truth is annually, as we await the bellowing of Christmas Carols and the cheer that Christmas presents bring, grasshoppers have been the first gift our mother earth awards us to usher in the season. You may read this and wonder what this has to do with our environment or better yet waste management. We are here to settle your concerns, with a bigger question. Where are the grasshoppers?
In Uganda, millions of grasshoppers migrate to one place where they plan to mate, we publicly know Masaka to be the home of the grasshopper. This year 2023, November hasn’t welcomed our guests, and I’d like to argue that the changing climate has something to do with this sad news. Is our climate no longer conducive to their reproduction or have they lost their way?
November is known to be a rainy season. As the raindrops fall to the ground this time of year, our little friends make their way to the surface in gleeful abundance. Their ectothermic nature (meaning their body temperature is determined by the external environment) influences this. Temperature influences their metabolism, growth rates, and activity levels. Rainfall and moisture availability play a crucial role in the life cycle of grasshoppers. Rainfall provides the necessary moisture for egg-laying in the soil. Nymphs, the juvenile grasshoppers, also require sufficient moisture for growth and survival. Additionally, rain contributes to the growth of vegetation, providing a vital food source for adult grasshoppers. Has it not been raining enough?
Grasshopper populations also exhibit seasonal patterns in response to changes in climate. In some regions, they may be more active and abundant during the warmer seasons, while in others, they might be more prominent during the rainy season when vegetation is abundant. With the increased cutting down of vegetation within Uganda, we might be on the verge of a grasshopper drought as we know it. The evidence shows that we have not made our country conducive for our little friends to reproduce. The life cycle of grasshoppers is closely tied to climate conditions. For example, the timing of egg-laying, hatching, and development of nymphs may be synchronized with specific climate cues, ensuring that the grasshoppers are most active and able to find suitable food sources.
The appearance and behavior of grasshoppers are intricately linked to climate conditions, including temperature, humidity, precipitation, and seasonal variations. These factors influence their ability to reproduce, find food, and survive in different environments. The bigger question we must ask ourselves today is what we can do to bring the grasshoppers back. This should be a wakeup call for us all because this is just a sign that while today it’s grasshoppers today, it could be food on another day. We need to start today.