GREEN BUG RAID ~ Droves of the Pests Annoy Defenseless Humanity.

September 8, 1907



Pedestrians Slipped Up on Layers of
Them on the Sidewalks -- Elec-
tric Lights in Total Eclipse
and People Had to
Fight Their Way.
Fighting Off Swarms of Bugs

"Suffering Moses! This is the first time I ever realized what sort of proposition Pharaoh and the other Egyptians were up against!" exclaimed an irate citizen last night as he left an Electric park car at Eighth street and Grand avenue, buttoning his coat collar tightly about his neck and shading his eyes as if he had stepped into a snow storm. And no one thought it worth while to ask the meaning of the allusion -- it was evident enough. It was the green bugs.

Green bugs! The air literally swarmed with them. About every street light and illuminated sign board they hung in clouds. The sidewalks were covered with them and pedestrians slipped up upon layers of them on the sidewalks. Passengers in the street cars had to keep their eyes closed for fear the insects would get caught beneath the lids and cause exquisite pain. One scarcely dared to open his mouth for fear of complications. The memark of the man who recalled the pests visited upon the persecutors of the Hebrews in olden time voiced the sentiments of half the downtown people in Kansas City last night.

The tiny green insects have been worse here this summer than ever before, but last night they surpassed all previous records. There was no escape from them except in darkness, as it seemed they could penetrate the closest screen netting. The lighting of any kind of lamp was the signal for an invasion by a swarm of the pests, and once inside they seemed to multiply by the thousands. They had an uncomfortable way of slipping down one's collar, or crawling into one's ear, with occasional side excursions up the nose.
Swarms of Green Bugs Attacking Shoppers
At the confectionery stands they were most exasperatingly aggressive. One ordered a crushed nut sundae and then politely handed it back to the waiter for renovation. An absinthe frappe, because of the harmony of hue between the liquer and the bugs, was altogether out of the question. At the "hand-out" restaurants in the North end, diners calmly covered their coffe-cups with the saucers while they ate their "ham an' " in rapid mouthfulls.

The young woman with the peek-a-boo shirtwaist probably fared the worst. The filigree seemed to offer especial attraction to the little insects, and not a few Kansas City girls were given an evening of peculiar and undesired discomfort. Many women were seen with light shawls, handkerchiefs, coats, anything that would prove a barrier to the aggressiveness of the bugs, about their shoulders in spite of the heat.

There was some satisfaction to observers, however, in the fact that if the bugs made people uncomfortable, other bugs made things interesting for them. Darting in and out of every cloud of the the green insects, large bugs closely resembling beetles were seen feeding voraciously upon the smaller pests. The inroads of those cannibals did not appreciably diminsh their numbers, however, although it was a matter for some comfot to know that trouble was happening to the trouble makers.

It is supposed that the warm weather, following the recent cool, wet weather, brought the bugs out in unusually large numbers. An entomologist who attempted to give a history of the insects was almost mobbed in a Grand avenue saloon by some men who asserted that the bugs were bad enough without going back into tradition and raking out all their ancestors.

In the telephone exchange offices the bantam grasshoppers were especially annoying.

"Bug here? Well, only a million or so, and they get in our mouths," said a "Central" girl.

"You see, we can not say 'hello' with our mouths shut, and every time we open them in hops a bug."

For some mysterious reason the bugs avoided the police station. While persons nearby were complaining, the officers only smiled.

At the Hotel Baltimore the bugs were so thick during the early part of the evening that they annoyed guests in the grill room. Waiters who were not engaged lighted rolls of paper and held the flame beneath the large electric lights in the grill and bar rooms. The smoldering fragments of newspapers which fell about those dining at nearby tables was just as annoying, but the fires soon dispatched the bugs.

Expert mathematicians figured it out that billions of the pests fluttered about the street arc lights, and this seemed plausible, for in the downtown streets some of the arc lights were in total eclipse.
Arc Lights Dimmed to Darkness by Little Green Bugs

On the street cars the scene was much the same as during a heavy snow storm. People turned up their coat collars, held their hats or hands before their faces and now and then, when an especially ambitions bug found its way down the collar of a passenger, there were shivers and exclamations.

In many of the cars the lights were turned entirely out, especially so in all the trailers on the Electric park line. The conductors and motormen fared the worst, for they were compelled to keep their eyes open even at the street corners under the electric lights where the bugs were thickest.