The dry weather of the 1930s created a problem concerning grasshoppers and cinch bugs.
Grasshoppers came in great hordes and ate what little crops there were. There weren’t any sprays or insecticides to control them. If a farmer left his pitchfork in the field when he went to lunch, when he returned, the pitchfork would have its handle ruined, meaning it had been chewed on so much it made the handle very rough to use.
Cinch bugs were also a major problem. They would fly in hordes and into the cornfields. Many times the corn stalks were literally covered with the black bugs. Due to the infestation, the ears were often small, badly shriveled, chaffy, and had little or no feed value or any kind.
The government tried to help by putting creosote out in 55-gallon barrels. Daviess County alone, was appropriated 500 barrels of the oil. When the first shipment of 100 barrels was received here, the entire amount was gone by the next day.
The farmers used the oil to make a path around the fields in hopes the bugs wouldn’t cross it. Some of the ways this “oil path” was made was by dipping an old sack or handful of weeds into the bucket and tapping it on the ground, or by letting the oil run out of the barrel in a small stream.
Other attempts were made to control the cinch bugs. Some farmers tried digging troughs around their fields and dragging logs to create dust so the bugs wouldn’t cross it. Other people cut corn stalks and stacked it in piles a foot high. Later they would return to the piles and find the stacks white because of the multitude of cinch bugs that became diseased and died. If they had eaten the standing corn, it wouldn’t have bothered them.
— researched and presented by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin, MO