They Filled the Air Like Rain

One of the most unique sights I have seen since arriving in outback New South Wales occurred for a few days in the first week or two of our work term here on the station. That would put the dates around the 16th-28th of March.

Our first major task upon our arrival was to “muster” the sheep in the varying paddocks. This essentially means gathering them and bringing them to the yards so they can be organized, separated, and then shorn or sold or walked back to their homes. For us, this meant hours spent riding quads around the property corralling sheep.

Grasshoppers around here must migrate or something, because there were thousands of them flying about. They were everywhere. As we rode around they would all jump up from in front of us and fly off. They left bruises on our chest and arms when we hit them at high speed. I had to wear the visor on my helmet down so they wouldn’t bounce off my face. It was an hourly occurrence that I would have to pick one out from inside my shirt where it had hit my neck and bounced downwards. There were times it literally felt like I was riding through hail.

It was unlike anything I have ever seen. Waves of them would fly by as we sat and ate lunch. The sheer number of them allowed me to hear the sound of their wings displacing air. There were so many of them in one area I was able to get a picture of them. I have never seen a swarm of locus or anything of the sort but it brought to mind a visual of the plague of locust.

It’s now early April and there are still grasshoppers about pretty much everywhere. However, they are not moving about in huge swarms as they were then. We still disturb them frequently when we walk or ride, but there are no waves of bugs flying across the desert. I no longer come back to the house with bug shaped bruises after riding at speed. They are still here, but no longer moving about en mass.

I have not really spent the time to look into why it happened when it did. It may be a normal yearly thing. I cannot say. But, I can tell you it was an amazing thing to experience.


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