Here is another joy of living on the peninsula known as Florida. The Lubber Grasshoppers. The first one of these I saw was another one of those “What the hell is that?” moments. Grasshoppers, in my experience were about maybe 3″ long. These things are biblical plague sized and seemingly armored with orange and yellow warpaint as well. Scary looking and they can eat an astonishing number of holes in your favorite plants to boot.
Eventually, even if you hate to, you will squish these things. I was walking my spotted hound, Charles, the other night and one of my neighbors was throwing things in the shrubbery whilst loudly apologizing to God. I knew what she was doing immediately. Squashing Lubbers, the crunch gives it away. Another neighbor’s theory is that karma gets you instantly when you squish one of the grasshoppers because of the smell they exude when crushed.
My curiosity aroused, I checked into this. It seems Lubbers have a gland that exudes a toxin that is poisonous to most things that might eat them. One bird, a Loggerhead Shrike, bites their heads off, (the poison is in the middle) impales them on something thorny or a fence, lets the poison dry out and then eats the grasshopper. This explained the decapitated grasshopper I found in my Pygmy Date Palm. Unfortunately, the bird never came back to finish his or her lunch.
To the misfortune of my Heliconias the Lubbers have found them apparently Heliconia leaves are a gourmet treat. When I first read about these bugs it was recommended to drown them in a bucket of soapy water. I tried that, but it seemed unnecessarily cruel and I ended up with a bucket of dead, soapy grasshoppers that I had to figure out what to do with. Ugh. A better solution is an old pair of tongs, crunch and throw them in the bushes. Maybe a Shrike will find them.