The Dreaded Lubber Grasshopper

 

Lubber on a Cross Tie

Lubber on a Cross Tie

 

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.

 

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7 comments on “The Dreaded Lubber Grasshopper

  1. These grasshoppers are EVERYWHERE at my daughter’s place in Daytona, but I’ve yet to see one here In Vero Beach. Am I just lucky?

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  2. antecessus says:

    Oh my gosh that is very scary! I wouldn’t want to kill something so large. Would some kind of mesh fence help? Eek! Just the thought of having to touch it! Are they found only in the south of Florida?

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    • Fencing does not help. To my knowledge it is Central and South Florida and one of those things you get used to. I was freaked out at first. After you see the damage you get over it..

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      • antecessus says:

        Ugh! *shivers* I hope they stay away from the coasts! I’m so sorry you have to deal with them. Thank you for letting me know about the fence. That’s just too bad :/

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  3. B. Phillips says:

    I’ve read all the comments but still have no definite answer. Should I kill these grasshoppers or just leave them alone? Do they damage my plants? I really need an educated answer from those who know about these creatures. I do not like killing them if they do no damage to my plants.

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