Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes Folklore

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Grasshoppers

Yesterday Chitter saved a big brown grasshopper from a spider’s web on the back porch. When she was telling me about it I said “Did he spit tobacco juice on you?” She said “No grasshoppers don’t chew tobacco.” I said “Of course they do, haven’t you ever let one spit on you before?” She said “Yes but I thought that was just some kind of yuck and we don’t have tobacco in our yard anyway.” I said “How do you know we might have rabbit tobacco growing around here?”

With all her worldly teenage knowledge, Chitter said “You’re crazy and you don’t know everything about grasshoppers. They spit that stuff on you as a defense mechanism.” She left me standing at the kitchen sink alone. I couldn’t help saying to myself “Of course I know about grasshoppers I used to be The Grasshopper Queen.”

If you have warts, the grasshopper’s tobacco juice will make them go away…at least that’s what I was told when I was a kid.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    Rosamary Christiansen
    July 31, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    When I was growing up, my folks had a good size corn patch and it was alive with grasshoppers. A kid’s paradise and her cat’s tasty morsels. Mom always worried because the cat got skinny eatin’ grasshoppers.

  • Reply
    Virginia Malone
    June 22, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    We think our grandson is getting a couple of warts. Maybe we will have to try that and if that doesn’t work, do the same aa we did with our daughter. Thanks a bunch!

  • Reply
    July 20, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Wish I had known that when I was a kid. I had a wart on one of my fingers for the longest time.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2011 at 7:17 am

    Chitter is such a sweetie and I always enjoy hearing about her and Chatter! Thank you for reminding me that the ‘tobacco’ juice cures warts~I’d forgotten that old lore. I wonder if it works??

  • Reply
    July 20, 2011 at 1:33 am

    I loved your grasshopper story I used to play with them when I was young, they were my people in my big doll house. 🙂 I don’t see as many here in So CA but since I have made a tropical jungle in my little yard with a pond and fish and a huge tree and lots of plants and hiding places they are here, you know the sayin, “If you build it they will come” I believe that and they have…lol…Debb

  • Reply
    July 19, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    I never heard grasshoppers could cure warts! I guess there is always some good in every creature! I also heard that if you put the white sap from dandelion stems on the warts, it will cure them too!
    John Pallister
    Twitter @PointlessPicks

  • Reply
    July 19, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Oh, yes. I do remember grasshoppers spitting tobacco juice. I also remember being very surprised when I found out that grasshoppers could ruin a Midwestern crop. I could not imagine them in such numbers.

  • Reply
    July 19, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Actually, an RN told me what helps warts go away is antibacterial hand soap because a virus causes the wart, viruses feed and propagate through bacteria, and anti-bacterial soap kills the bacteria.
    Our brother tried it on some big ones he had on his hands from landscaping, and within a short time, they were gone.
    Have a good one.
    With love.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    July 19, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    I laughed at your story and Chitter’s giving her side of the grasshopper ‘juice’.
    We used to catch grasshoppers when I was young and would keep them in jars, only for a short time though. Of course it was really cool if the boys threw them at you … kind of a status symbol? LOL

  • Reply
    Brenda Kay Ledford
    July 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    What a great posting. I didn’t know grasshopper juice would make warts go away. How interesting the home remedies of our mountains. I love the old folklore.

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike, Ph.D.
    July 19, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Tipper: Your grasshopper commentary made me want to tell you about a MOTH I found in my garden last week. Seeing how strange it looked, I quickly grabbed a paper cup and attempted to capture it to take to my grandson, age 13! After a few minutes of observing it, it seemed ‘almost dead’ so I decided I would release it and let it pass on in my gardens!
    When I came home many hours later that moth was high up on my doorfacing when I opened the back door! I promptly put him in a cup with plastic wrap over it and he spent the night in my kitchen! The next morning I called Connor and told him I was on my way to his house with the beautiful dead moth!
    Well sir, when we removed the plastic wrap that moth started flapping its wings like forty! We had both thought he was a goner! As we watched in wonder, he flew outside from one WHITE garage door to the other. Then all of a suddern he headed toward the woods and that was the end of our moth experience!
    Now that I am at the end of this LONG COMMENT I will tell you the name of the moth and you can look it up in your moth book! It was a PANDORA SPHINX. I will never forget that moth experience!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    July 19, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Don’t you know you can’t argue with teenagers? They know just about everything when they become
    that age. Mine sure did!
    You mentioned ‘rabbit tobacco’, do
    you have any on your place? That
    stuff is about all gone, extinct.
    Gosh, my brother and I use to stuff baccer like that in an old corn cob pipe and just smoke till we were sick. It was plentiful on our property when I was little, as were apricots. And on those
    posseum hunts after the frost came, we would eat our fill of ’em

  • Reply
    July 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Your story about the little boy calling you aunt Titter got me. It is funny how sometimes little children getting things messed up can lead to a beautiful memory that will last not only for the ones involved, but for others.
    I remember my Momma had an aunt named Birdie. The storie has it that when Momma was little she always called her aunt Boddie. The story of that has never left me; I wish I could have been there.
    Now, I said all that to say all this. That little boy calling you aunt Titter will go into a collection of memories that will never be forgotten by either of you. This will make your memory of each other even more endearing in the years that are yet to come. Thank you for that story AUNT TITTER!

  • Reply
    July 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I don’t think children catch and play with grasshoppers as we did as kids. We were outside so much and it just became one of those things we did. We tried to keep the “tobacco juice” off our hands but were not always successful. We caught the grasshoppers, slipped them on a hook, and tried to catch a sunfish in the pond. Sometimes it actually worked. The large grasshoppers that usually show up late in the summer can actually bite hard enough to hurt a bit. During summers like this one(terribly dry and very hot) I often have to put something on my house plants that are on the porch to keep the grasshoppers from eating them. I once was away from home for a time and came back to bare stems on my begonias, peace lily, geraniums etc. To be well educated, everyone needs to know about grasshopper tobacco juice. Ha!

  • Reply
    Melissa P (misplaced Southerner)
    July 19, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I remember goin’ to church camp and boys chasing us tryng to drop grasshoppers down the backs of our blouses. Still makes me squirm to this day! Of course, they weren’t the cute little green ones like in the photo. They were big, honkin’ black and yellow ones that could eat a small child left unattended .

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    July 19, 2011 at 11:38 am

    While some have questioned the provenance of the quotation that was attributed to Mark Twain in a September 1937 Reader’s Digest, the truth that it conveyed is unequivocal:
    “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
    As Grandpa used to say, “They’ll learn.”

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    July 19, 2011 at 11:20 am

    lol i love these stories … im glad she saved the grasshopper.. dunno about the tobacco spit.. i got told this weekend about flys spitting on food too.. ugh such talk at a table while people are eating.. but 8 year old grandsons are adorable so i didnt mind.
    i do love the smell of sweet grass.. do they have that where you are? i dont exactly know where it is here. but smell it when people mow.. my sister in law brought me some… she uses it in the tops of her baskets.. when she weaves the final ring.
    hope all are keeping cool..
    big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    July 19, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Got plenty of ‘backer juice from grasshoppers when I was a kid. Also hadn’t thought about rabbit tobacco in years. Thanks for the reminder. The only grasshoppers I see here in South Florida are the big yellow and black ones. They are a bit shy of 2 inches long. Some call them locusts, but I don’t think they are true locusts. They don’t swarm, which is a blessing!

  • Reply
    July 19, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Wow! I had forgotten about grasshoppers and their tobacco juice!!!! Thank you telling this story!

  • Reply
    July 19, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I love your story! I also know all about teen knowlege and being left alone after getting a worldy lesson from one or all of them 😉
    Never heard the tobacco thing, prolly cause I never held one… I was one of those girls who wouldn’t have anything to with that. 🙂

  • Reply
    July 19, 2011 at 9:41 am

    These kids seem to know so much more than we did at their age.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 19, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Tipper–I’d like to know why you were known as “The Grasshopper Queen.” There has to be a story there–maybe you were hyperactive and hopped around like a grasshopper?
    ‘Hoppers have figured prominently in my life as a fly fisherman. In late summer and early fall out West they sometimes have what they call grasshopper winds. There will be enough wind to blow ‘hoppers off course and into the river when they fly, and trout love them.
    Even here in the high country from this time of year until late September grasshopper patterns make a wonderful offering for trout. In fact, I caught a mess of fish in the Nantahala River this past Saturday, and most of them took a ‘hopper pattern.
    Of course other fish like ’em too, and as a boy I went to considerable efforts(maybe I qualified as a grasshopper prince) to catch them. The best time is when grass and weeds are still wet in early morning. I’d store them in a Prince Albert tin or something similar, taking care to remove their jumping legs first so as the immobilize them to some degree.
    Great subject, and what I especially like is the simple pleasure an insect can bring. Incidentally, I’ve eaten them a couple of times–once a chocolate-covered grasshopper and another time fried ones. The latter were actually tasty–something like a extra crisp french fry.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    July 19, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Ah, the wisdom of teenagers!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    July 19, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Tell sweet Chitter, that sure the tobacco spit is a defense mechanism..The spit (juice) is an old old term. Grasshopper ‘baccer Juice, was labled many years ago since it is the nasty color of “snuff” spit and “chawing
    ‘baccer” spit. Regurgitated from the gut when they need to fend off a person, bird or rodent..Many
    grasshoppers ate tobacco plants as well as other grasses so the farmer labled the spit…My Dad said one time he wished he could make a spray of ‘baccer spit to discourage hornworms…That would take a lot of ‘baccer spit to make a gallon of spray! ha
    Thanks Tipper..

  • Reply
    July 19, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Remember Mama telling me to “put that nasty thing down before he spits baccor juice in your eye and puts it out”. She was so funny. Just a way to try to get me from playing with them.Never knew what the brown stuff was but it is nasty.

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