Adult Eastern lubber grasshoppers – Romalea microptera – can grow up to eight inches in length. And these colorful insects can hiss, secrete foam and even regurgitate a staining brown liquid to thwart predators.
Although these grasshoppers have wings, they’re “incapable of flight and can jump only short distances,” according to the University of Florida Entomology and Nematology Department. “Mostly the lubber is quite clumsy and slow in movement and travels by walking and crawling feebly over the substrate.”
Lubbers have vibrant colors and patterns to warn off potential predators of their toxicity. As these grasshoppers feed on plants and substances that can be potentially harmful to other animals, predators – from birds to opossoms – can become violentally ill after eating a lubber. Additionally, these giant grasshoppers can secrete a foam, hiss, and regurgitate a brown liquid as means of defense.
Compared to other grasshopper species and when considering their sheer size, lubbers have remarkably small appetites. But they’ve been known to eat a vegetables, flower gardens and even nylon screening – and these hoppers an be difficult to kill when wild population management is necessary.
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Photo Credits: Jodi Kendall