Insect Insight: Eastern Lubber Grasshopper


June 10, 2010
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Well, it’s officially summer in Houston and we are literally buzzing with insect activity. Some species are off to a slow start due to the harsh winter, but they are sure to catch up soon. I love the summer! I can definitely tolerate it being hotter than all get out,  a lot better than the cold and I love to see the outdoors come to life. Millions of little creatures scurrying here and there doing their jobs to keep our environment working the way it should. How can you not appreciate that?

One insect you may be lucky enough to run into is the Eastern Lubber Grasshopper. Although I’m not terribly clear on the role these funny little guys play, it may just be to entertain people like me! These grasshoppers are commonly referred to as the clowns of the insect world. They are large, colorful, extremely clumsy, and just plain funny to look at!

Lubber grasshopper
Creative Commons License photo credit: JoelDeluxe

There are several species of Lubber grasshoppers. Most of them are found in South America, but luckily we have a few species here in North America. They are among the largest grasshoppers found in the United States. The term “lubber” refers to stout and clumsy individuals. You may have heard the term landlubber before, which means a clumsy or inexperienced sailor. This name fits them quite well. Most lubber grasshoppers are horrible jumpers, cannot fly, and are pretty slow at walking. You would think that this would put them at a disadvantage, but they have enough chemical and physical defenses to put off a large majority of predators that would threaten them!

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Clowns! Eastern Lubbers
Creative Commons License photo credit: emills1

The Easter Lubber or Romalea guttatta is probably the most well known grasshopper in the Southeastern United States and is definitely the largest! They can be called the clowns of the insect world due to their coloration. They usually have a combination of yellow, red and black and their colors can vary. They have these colors for a reason. They are known as aposematic or warning colors. This coloration can also be seen on animals such as coral snakes, poison dart frogs, bees, wasps, ladybugs, monarch butterflies, etc. This is a way of warning predators to stay away, or get more than they bargained for. This can mean poison, venom, a bad taste or other unpleasant consequences.

The bodies of Eastern Lubbers do contain toxic chemicals that have been known to cause death in certain bird species and cause small mammals like opossums to wretch violently and feel sick for quite some time after. Of course there are some animals that are tolerant of their poison.

If their coloration does not work, they have an arsenal of other defenses. They will lift their wings, displaying their bright red color. This is often followed by a loud hissing noise as they force a bubbly frothy liquid from their spiracles (breathing holes). This substance contains some semi-toxic chemicals which are irritants. They can also regurgitate plant material that has been recently eaten and digested. This liquid is brown in color and also contains some semi-toxic compounds from the insect’s crop. It is often referred to as tobacco spit and many grasshoppers are able to do this. Wow, if  an insect was doing all that to me, I would probably freak out! I have been working with Eastern Lubbers for years and have never ever seen such a thing. They must not find me very threatening!

Juvenile Eastern Lubber
Creative Commons License photo credit: vladeb a nymph

If you’re wondering where to find these beauties, well, your guess is as good as mine! They prefer moist, densely wooded areas, but as they mature, they will disperse and can be found in almost any suitable habitat. I have collected them several times out at Bear Creek Park. Sometimes they will disperse into gardens and become a bit of a pest. They will eat a wide variety of wild plants but are fond of amaryllis and related plants in gardens.  However, despite their size, they have a very small appetite, so the numbers would have to be great to cause a problem.

The nymphs tend to be gregarious and they look quite different from the adults so they can often be mistaken for a different species all together. They are all black with a narrow yellow, red, or orange stripe running from their head to their abdomen. If you happen to run into these grasshoppers, take some time to observe them. We are so lucky to have such an amazing insect native to our little part of the world.

In the mean time you can stop by our Entomology Hall to see them on display. I’m fortunate enough to be fully stocked up with plenty of adults and nymphs to last me through the summer! Until next time, happy grasshopper watching!

Erin M
Authored By Erin M Mills

Erin Mills received her undergraduate degree in Entomology from Texas A&M University in 2004, and after a short tour of the pest control industry, joined HMNS as the Cockrell Butterfly Center’s Insect Zoo Manager in 2005. Over the years she expanded the butterfly center’s live arthropod collection, developed the ever popular “Bugs on Wheels” outreach program, and continued to establish her role as HMNS’s insect expert. In October of 2016, she achieved her long time goal of becoming Director of the Cockrell Butterfly Center. She is constantly striving to improve the butterfly center and how it serves and educates the public about the wonderful and amazing world of insects! As a Board Certified Entomologist, Erin has extensive knowledge of insect identification, ecology, plant relationships, husbandry, really any insect-related topic!

57 responses to “Insect Insight: Eastern Lubber Grasshopper”

  1. B.B. Deltona Fl says:

    A little dawn dish soap and water kill these… plant eating monsters…

  2. Lauren says:

    What’s the recommended substrate (type and depth) for breeding these little guys?

  3. Erin M. says:

    Hi Lauren!

    They’re not too picky about the substrate. You can use a coconut fiber type substrate, they are available at most pet stores and come in a block you pour water over to expand and break it up. You can also use soil, or a mix of soil and sand or coconut fiber and sand. I wouldn’t recommen just sand though. The substrate should be at leat 3 inches deep and a little deeper than that won’t hurt. Once they lay eggs, make sure the substrate does not dry out because that can kill the eggs. They should hatch about 5-6 months later. Good luck!

  4. Sandy Aschenbrenner says:

    You have some great info here. I have really enjoyed reading this. I live in a subdivision for 22 years and over 10 years ago the black and red ones showed up here and Have reeked havoc ever since. I use to spray them to kill them but find it easier to step on them. Every year they increase in numbers. I have killed over 300 this year.
    The worse part is when they have grown as big 2 inches plus it is gross to step on them. I am an avid gardener with alot of Amaryllis. I don’t see anything pretty about these grasshoppers.
    Thank you for the info as I knew the red definitely meant “Stay away”.
    My son wants to use them for fishing bait. Do you think that is a good idea? Thanks again for the insight. It took me all these years to finally find out what kind they are.
    Sandy

  5. Erin M. says:

    Hi Sandy!

    Well, I am sad to hear that you kill them, but I do understand that not everyone appreciates bugs eating plants in their garden! I would, however, like to save some of them from being squished! If you’d like to bring some in and donate them to the museum, we’d be happy to take as many as you can bring. They are great for outreach and display and I enjoy caring for them! I have room for quite a bit and I know the zoo would probably like some too!

    As far as using them for fishing bait, I’ve heard of this before. Their toxicity depends on what they eat and affects animals differently. I’m sure they would be fine for your son to use. I hope you will consider sending some of them our way! If you’d like to, contact us at blogadmin@hmns.org. Thanks and I’m glad the article was helpful for you!

  6. Norm says:

    Here we go ahh’ Lubbering…Mmmmmmmm..! Oh, my gracious, the fully grown Lubbers are hated in Florida. WHY ? Because of their destructive nature. Devouring every green leaf in sight. So many local garden blogs continually ask,” HOW DO WE GET RID OF THESE DESTRUCTIVE PESTS ?” Their numbers, at times, overwhelming. One hundred Lubbers, attacking a lucious, green plant…not a pleasant sight. An outside walk in late afternoon, hearing green leaves crying for help.” PLEASE…GET THESE THINGS OFF ME.”
    Garden Bloggers share ingredients tried to kill the lubbers. Still, they come. Lubbers aren’t harmful to people. Birds, when eating a Lubber, will likely ingest their deadly toxin. When caught or bumped…a disgustingly u-g-l-y, Lubber attribute is exhibited. Spitting their “dark-brown-tobacco-juice” So gross.
    To give gardeners a different perspective, I created several lubber dioramas. This change contributes to an entriely different lubber perspective. Transformation into an, AMERICAN LUBBER IDOL, a LUBBER on the LAKE, LIZZY LUBBER SITTING IN A SWING,UNDER A TREE, COMPUTER-NERD LUBBER, DIVING DAN LUBBER and others. The Tampa Tribune Garden Editor came out, with a local television photographer, and did a Lubber print and television piece. This brought much interest. Friends, phone calls and email. The reason for my Lubber venture was to give everyone a differnt perspective of the Eastern Lubber Grasshopper. With loads of disgust, aggravation and garden destruction accumulated, a light moment was enjoyed and appreciated. Ah, yes…To laugh at this destructive pest.
    The Lubbers have migrated. Sending “Lubber Companies” into five or six additional states. So, all wishing to meet this not-so-nice pest…your wait may be shorter than expected. Go ahead and enjoy them “from a distance.” As they “move-in” and begin their “green plant snacking ” I just surmise the warm-Lubber-fuzzies will cool. In the meantime…we’ll continue urging the Lubber-Gang to “Keep on Moving Along.”

  7. Peter says:

    Hi Erin, interesting site. I never knew what these big grasshoppers were called, thanks!
    Years ago we were living in Stuart Fl, and I chanced upon one of these huge (at least 4″!) grasshoppers.
    Having emigrated from New England I was ignorant about Lubbers, but fascinated by this giant, colorful and slow moving insect. I carried it home to show my wife and we found it loved baby carrots, methodically munching them down as its abdomen expanded.
    The big lug seemed happy to sit on our knees or the back of the couch while we watched TV. He spent the night in a spare bird cage (our parakeets didn’t seem to mind its presence in the house). Tiger (because of his coloration) was nearly as large as the parakeets, but produced only an occasional hamster-sized dropping which was easy to clean up.
    I realize that gardeners may view Lubbers as pests, but frankly Tiger was a very quiet, well behaved little pet and never exhibited any of these defensive responses. He would amble back and forth across the couch to be near us, swaying from side to side to allow its compound eyes to identify its favorite human (whoever was snacking on a yummy treat). A very polite, social bug.
    I’ve had a number of pets but as you can tell, we both enjoyed our time with this surprising little guy.

  8. Alexandre says:

    I have a small one that has a red stripe on it, about an inch tall is it really related???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  9. Alexandre says:

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  10. Jamalam51 says:

    I just recently purchased a home and found these HUGE grasshoppers everywhere they don’t bother me and I could careless if they eat my plants, I’m not green thumb by any means. I have a 5 year old son and if anyone out there has kids especially boys they know how very curious kids are well my son use to catch them and I figured it couldn’t harm him well the adults don’t bother him at all but If he handles the younger babies he will end up with massive abdominal pain along with diarrhea it’s happened more then once and now I feel like I should be killing these beautiful creatures is this normal? please any words of advice would help..

  11. Erin M. says:

    Alexandre, I’m sorry,no one alerted me of this question! The babies or bymphs are black with a yellow, orange, or red stripe. So, more than likely, they are related!

  12. Erin M. says:

    Jamalam51,

    Hello! this is odd! If what you have around your house are lubber grasshoppers then yes, they can be and are more than likely poisonous to ingest, but not to touch at all. There are a couple of things that might be happening. 1. Your son is eating them or putting them in his mouth (I hope not!) or 2. the grasshoppers are expelling defensive chemicals either from their bodies or mouths (refer to article above for defensive behavior), and he is getting that stuff on his fingers, then putting his fingers in his mouth. This might be the most likey scenario. I would keep an eye on how he interacts with them and make sure he keeps his hands out of his mouth and washes his hands afterwards. I would definitely not kill the grasshoppers as they are doing nothing wrong besides maybe trying to protect themselves!

  13. KayCee says:

    Erin, I truly wish that I could enjoy your enthusiasum, but I just prumed, (an understatment) my palms or should I say what was left of my palms after an attack of these horrible creatures. And anyone that believes that dawn for dishes and water kills the babies, is wrong. Because early in spring I went after them as soon as they were born because of the bout that I had with them last year. I sprayed every morning. It may have shooed them away but kill them no. So now they are in the “nymph” stage as you put it and hungry. I was noticing that my palms were being consumed by something, however since I had or thought that I had killed the lubbers didn’t suspect them. Then I went to prune the cold damaged and half eatten frowns from my palms and I ran into about fifty or so about one inch in length. I won’t break your heart by telling you how I dispensed of them this time. My reason however for coming to your site was to ask if they are dangerous to pets because oneday I was weeding or doing something in the yard and my little dashound was in the yard with me. We went inside and he just collasped to the ground and went limp. He was lightly moaning and I honestly thought that he had been poisoned the way that he was acting, so I rushed him to the vet. he layed lifeless in my lap all the way there which is so not like him. When we got there I surrendered him to the doctor and they also said that he acted like he had ingested some sort of poison. He had no control of his bowels which were like water. He moaned and just layed on the gurny, as far as I knew I was losing him right there. Then about ten minutes later he started to come around. He got up and walked. and his vitals checked out ok. So I took him home and watched him carefully but I went outside to see if I could find anything suspicious. Laying there on my pool deck was a half eatten grass hopper. Nymph stage. That had to have been what it was. So people take care not to let your pets get a hold of them. As far as I am concerned that yellow black and red is there for a very valid reason. Even when it’s only black and yellow first.

  14. Anne says:

    OMG the just appeared at my house. I have lived in FL for 20 years and this is the first time. I always had really nice great green grasshoppers, one or two and they were nice and friendly, we lived in peaceful toleration but one day my fence was loaded with these little timy black things looking like baby grasshoppers, this never happened before. I have a live and let live attitude and these little things grewq and grew and grew and not I see the stripe and looked in internet and sede that they are the lubbers OMG I like my green grasshoppers and wonder if they will be back since these are here. Also my fence is the only fence with these things. WHY? I live in a small subdivision and I do not see these on any other fences. They like to sleep on the fence at night also in little groups, well not so little anymore as they have grown. I do not like to kills things so I hope next year they will be gone….and my flowers they eats will come back also.

  15. Erin M. says:

    Anne,

    These grasshoppers are not so different from your green grasshopper friends. They are only bigger and therefore have a bit of a bigger appetite. I’m not sure why they are congregating in your yard. More than likely the mother fancied it and laid her eggs there. The nymphs have probably not dispersed because they like whatever food you have for them. They would not drive other grashoppers away, they pose no threat to any other grasshoppers. These are really fascinating, beautiful insects. I don’t really understand why they make people so angry. So they eat plants…a lot of insects do! The plants will come back, don’t worry!

  16. Sherry says:

    These vile creatures are gardeners enemies. Yes most plants will grow back, meanwhile we’re left with ugly leafless stalks. They have eaten 1/3 of the way into several bulbs that weren’t cheap. Still waiting to see if they’re going to come back. My gardens and flowerbeds are an investment of my time & money, so it’s a There is no plant that is safe from their ravenous appetites. I can deal with the mosquitoes better than these demons.
    If I wasn’t such a lady, I’d tell you how I really feel about them! LOL
    I enjoyed the article and comments!
    Sherry

  17. Nikki says:

    Hey Erin,

    My daughter went to a Nature camp and had the chance to take these home as a pet. Just a few questions for you. We were told to feed them lettuce or strawberries, would any green leafy and fruits work? How long do they live? Is the female larger than the male? They were mating and they are laying eggs now, so I’m just assuming. My daughter likes to hold them, I saw in your previous post that she should wash her hands after in case they spray her. Any other concerns there?

    Any other helpful pet info would be great! Thanks!

    Nikki

  18. Erin M. says:

    Hi Nikki!

    These are fun critters to take care of! They need leafy greens more than any other fruit or veggie because in the wild, their diet consists of mostly foliage. Romaine lettuce is a very popular choice because they absolutely love it! They will also eat Kale, but mine have never been to into any other leafy greens. I would only offer fruits in moderation, but they will nibble on just about any other fruit or veggie. They should live about 6 months once they reach adulthood, sometimes more, sometimes less. It just depends! The females are certainly larger than the males. If they seem to be tame when your daughter is holding them, I wouldn’t worry too much about them getting anything toxic on her. They only do this when they feel threatened. Mine are usually fine when being handled! Also, these grasshoppers in captivity lose their toxicity because you are not feeding them poisonous plants, you’re feeding them lettuce, so they are no longer poisonous! It is never a bad idea, however, to have her wash her hands afterwards because they can sometimes go to the bathroom on you! Have fun!

  19. harrison says:

    hey guys i was wondering if know how too (and what to) feed a eastern lubber i found one and i want to keep as a pet and i cant find out what they eat 🙁 but i was hoping somebody here would know

  20. Tiffany says:

    Hi, I live in southern Alabama. Just yesterday my kids and I were at a park along Mobile Bay. We found a bunch of these little guys and were quite intrigued by them. I placed my hand in front of one and he climbed aboard! But I got frightened as I was not expecting the prickliness of his feet. Almost as soon as he climbed on he went to take a nibble of my finger (we had just eaten lunch). I didn’t wait to see if it would hurt, so I immediately flung him off. My question is, do these guys bite??? I would like to let the kids play with them, maybe even take them home as pets. But i want to be sure they won’t hurt first. 🙂

  21. Erin M. says:

    Harrison,

    Please read the comment right above yours which tells what to feed them!

  22. Erin M. says:

    Hi Tiffany!

    Well, these grasshoppers do not bite out of aggression, however, they are capable of biting since they have chewing mouthparts. They are very curious and will sample many different things to eat, including fingers! I have had this happen quite a few times when handling them. They will try a quick nibble (it doesn’t hurt, just a little pinch) but usually find out right away that your finger is not food. To combat this, I always have a leaf of lettuce to offer them when I’m handling them. If I notice their mouthparts moving towards my skin, I stick the lettuce in their face! It works every time.

  23. K C says:

    At the end of a peaceful walk my son’s eye started hurting and then swelled up so frightening big that I took him to the emergency room. We came to the conclusion since he had no bites and isn’t allergic to anything that it was from the grasshoppers he was holding in his hand. One had spit on his finger and he must have rubbed his eye. The white part of his eye was so swollen that it was overlapping his pupil. With a liter of saline solution his eye got better. I never knew about this “spit”. So yes parents, kids need to be cautious when playing with grasshoppers. I will do my best to prevent this from happening again. No damage was done to his eye but it was painful and as parents we don’t want our children to have swollen eyes!! Someone might get a wrong idea of how it happened.

  24. Andrea Croyle says:

    Hi! Thanks for this great page. It has great information on it.
    I homeschool my 9 yr old son and we have decided to raise these awesome creatures to document their instars and color change. I have read through most of the comments and I have two opinions. One is all of the negative things the parents have said about these Lubbers.
    As a parent there are things you teach your child very early in life. One- wash hands often especially after touching stuff and being outside Two- Never put hands on face ever!That is how you spread germs. If you need to itch, cough etc., use the inside of your sleeve or shirt. Three- I homeschool, so obviously I watch my child very closely, however EVERY PARENT should be with and paying attention to their child when they are outside?

    The other opinion is- This is obviously a information page you have created because of your FONDNESS of these creatures. Why would someone write anything negative about them being killed or fed to fish . There are a hundred other sites on google and after searching for information, I can say that not all of them are “pro-insect” pages. The people should go write their negative comments on those pages where they will be appreciated.

  25. Erin M. says:

    Andrea,

    I appreciate your comments very much! I’m really glad that you have found this sight helpful! It is true that, as an entomologist, I have an extreme fondness for insects because I respect them and know that they have an immensely important place in this world, every last one of them. Many people who have negative feelings about insects just have no idea what an important role they play in our everyday lives. My goal is to help as many people as I can gain an appreciation for them and it’s a breath of fresh air when I don’t have to try very hard! Keep doing what you’re doing!

  26. Great site! I had a hatch off in my backyard and I want to keep some as pets. Any recommendations for food, or will grass and lettuce work OK? Thanks, Mike

  27. Erin M. says:

    Micheal,

    Lettuce works GREAT! In fact, they love romaine lettuce especially! You can even feed them other fruits and veggies. Have fun!

  28. Jack says:

    Hey Erin,
    I’m an outdoor enthusiast. I live currently in Cape Coral, FL. Here, if you haven’t seen a lubber grasshopper you haven’t looked. Had a neighbor once tell me he’s never seen a cockroach in Florida… not sure how that’s possible unless he was taught that a cockroach looks like a panda.
    I have lubber grasshoppers in abundance 3/4 of the year without encouraging them. Spray should not be necessary if these are a concern. Even in nymph phase they are large enough that if you or someone you know goes fishing I recommend live capture. The general Floridian attitude toward lubber grasshoppers is like we’re looking at a cow. I usually handle them like a craw fish. I use recyclable 2-liter bottles or plastic boxes with a few air holes punched in them to capture/keep lubbers in. A bit of grass will keep lubbers a few days, though I prefer to use them right away. They aren’t particularly strong, but have some fantastic gripping hooks on their legs & feet. Both fresh & salt water fish will eat them.
    I prefer to have lubbers around my home rather than some of the other grasshoppers we have in Florida, as some of the other species are 1/3 the size of a lubber & eat 3 times as much. Large size doesn’t mean increased metabolism & in my experience lubbers generally do minimal damage to plant life. Their large size & clumsiness tend to keep them restricted to sturdy plants that can handle both their weight & appetite or grass. Most likely if your plants are getting hit hard & lubbers are around, there’s a smaller species or something else causing it.
    I’ve handled them extensively and have 3 dogs & 2 cats that love to capture & play with the lubber that occasionally gets inside of our lanai. I’ve always washed any lubber grasshopper bodily fluids off, though I’m sure I’ve rubbed at my eye once or twice in the heat without washing. My pets never kill or eat them & avoid the lubber’s spit. I’ve never had or seen any ill effects, which makes me curious…
    Exactly what type of plants cause or increase toxicity in the lubber grasshopper? How toxic could a lubber grasshopper be?

  29. Eva says:

    Hey, love your article, I was just curious on how to breed Lubber Grasshoppers indoors. Mine have been mating recently and I understand the eggs overwinter but I was wondering if it was the time or temperature changes that made them hatch. For example, if I were to stick the substrate in the freezer for awhile and bring it out would they hatch or would I just have to wait 5 months? Thanks!

  30. Khat says:

    KILL THESE HORRID THINGS!!!! Dang grasshoppers killed my amaryllis plant.

  31. Leanna says:

    Great article!
    I live in the middle of a wooded area surrounded by bayou, and these guys have been my only neighbors for 20 years. We are nearing the end of their time with us this year, and I have noticed some behaviors that I do not remember previously. First, the males are much more aggressive with each other than I have ever seen before. I saw a fight among three, and then a fourth lumbered clumsily to the fray and jumped in. I’ve also seen two males, one on concrete and one in the grass, rub their faces on the ground for over five minutes. Most disturbingly, they twitch violently for several hours before they die from, I was hoping, natural causes after mating. Is this normal behavior I haven’t noticed before, or should I be looking for a change in the environment?
    Thanks for your time!

  32. Erin M. says:

    Hi Leanna! Thank you for your comment! The aggression between males does not surprise me at all and is common in males of all insects, especially if females are scarce! However, the rubbing and twitching before death are things that I have never noticed. I keep these in captivity and they have a very consistent diet and every day is the same, pretty low stress environment, so that may have something to do with it. The only thing I might suspect is pesticide use around your home? Perhaps spraying for mosquitoes. Do you live in Houston?

  33. Leanna says:

    Thanks for the info! I live in Mississippi, and the trucks that spray for mosquitos have not started for this season. Terminix was here a couple months ago spraying for spiders and termites, but this is more recent than that, just in the last couple of weeks.

  34. Patrish says:

    I saw one of these over the last month. Thought it was injured because it didn’t jump much, but it was the most beautiful thing. I wanted to take a pic, never quite caught it right. When I came home just now, it was climbing by my the door as if to say, ‘I’m ready, take it now’ . I got the camera, gently coaxed it down onto the grass and now a couple of really close ups (telephone len). When I went to research what it was not a really insect, since I’m not a gardener I will leave it alone and enjoy it’s beauty. I have a Cuban Frog living by my porch and sadly, I’m probably going to Humanely euthanize him before he eats up all by lizard friends.

  35. Cristy says:

    Hi Erin,

    Thanks for your blog post and for attempting to expose others to the positives about the amazing Southeastern Lubber Grasshopper. I began raising them – inadvertently – when I was about nine. Not surprisingly, they loved my grandfather’s amaryllis leaves and, when he caught them, he would twist their heads off. He did this in front of me exactly once. Why? Because after that, I insisted that he allow me to catch every single one I could find and I promised to take them home with me.He happily helped me and sent me home with about a dozen bright yellow Lubbers packed into a tiny bamboo cage. Convincing the stewardess (yes, that old fashioned name for flight attendants) that I wouldn’t open the cage on the plane was another story, for another time, but thank goodness, it was the Seventies. It would NEVER happen now, but those grasshoppers took the only flight of their life at the end of that week.

    Now these were full grown Lubbers and, before they eventually died of “old age,” some of the females laid their eggs in the dirt/sand mixture inside of the aquarium, which I moved the grasshoppers into when we arrived home in Miami. I dumped the dirt in our backyard and, the next spring, our tiny yard was teeming with itsy bitsy baby Lubbers. I received a directive from my mother to catch as many as possible before they destroyed her amaryllis – and I raised generation after generation of Lubbers for several years afterwards.

    In fact, thirty-five years later, I’ve got three nymphs in a small cage right now – and I’m hoping to catch the rest, as they hatch. We have so many wild birds – which I also feed – that the nymphs don’t stand much of a chance “in the wild.” Erin, have you found that you can handle the Lubbers without them jumping? I can – in fact, the Lubbers have always been very calm around me – but I’ve noticed that they seem to sense the fear or trepidation in people who aren’t accustomed to them, and won’t sit calmly in their palms. Again, thanks for your post. So great to see another Lubber nerds out there!

  36. Adrienne Siebert says:

    I am happy to hear that they are easy to breed and get young from! I haven’t seen any in years here in S. Florida since I began to have an enthusiasm for arthropoda. Finally, I found one today that looks to be a female. I sure hope that she was mated as it is quite a drive to where I found her. My 8 year old daughter is in love with her, as I am. I used to be terrified of these creatures! In the past few years I have really found a love for arthropoda of most kinds. After raising several species of mantids, roaches, beetles, spiders,etc. I was able to let her walk all over my hands, after my daughter insisted that we handle her. I am so excited to have found this creature. I never see them in my neighborhood. 😉 She will be spoiled rotten whether she produces young or not. Can you tell me if they will lay infertile eggs if not mated? She will have a substrate anyway. I wouldn’t want her to get eggbound.

  37. Carmen says:

    I just have gotten 2 Lubber Grasshopper; a female and a male. I noticed that the female open wide and close her back (the end of her body in the back); Is it normal? If it is, why she does it? Thank you!

  38. Peyton Duncan says:

    I have caught about 20 of them this year, and have been feeding them and watching them as they molt, they are all in their final stage now, except two. Funny thing, as one was molting, another Lubber jumped on it and started eating it…It didn’t have a chance, as it was stuck their molting. I didn’t even realize these things were cannibals, until that moment…but the other Lubber devoured it in about 10 minutes…nothing left but legs.

  39. Adrianna says:

    I have just checked my garden and I have about 50 to 75 on each plant which I am not even sure what type of plant they are they are leafy with very small white flowers in the center they were here when we moved in I handled a few of the grasshoppers and I was surprised at their very calm demeanor if anyone would like samples or to come and watch them or to collect a few for study you are more than welcome just leave me a message and I will give you the contact information however I am in st. Petersburg Florida thank you

  40. Pamela says:

    Erin, thank you SO much for this posting. I’m new to the south (living in the Tampa Bay area) and was very excited about starting to grow my own veggies at my new home. Well, the little black/yellow babies took care of that! They killed all 8 of my cucumber plants, all 4 of my tomato plants and my red lettuce plants. In addition, they completely destroyed a palm plant in the front of the house as well as my stargazer lillies and a few other beautiful native plants I had outside.
    I’m upset about my veggies, but more concerned about my dogs. I have 3 little Pomeranians who LOVE not only playing with these things, but enjoying them as a snack! Today, one of my dogs ate 3 and the other one ate 2 (and the day isn’t over yet!). I decided to call my vet’s office and spoke to the vet tech asking if I should be concerned about my dogs eating them. She told me she did not know. That’s how I ended up on your blog. I NEED to know if it is safe for my dogs to eat these things! So far, none of them have exhibited any signs of stomach upset or toxicity, but there are SO many of them on my property that my dogs are going to keep eating them (because they go out in the yard throughout the day). Can you give me any information regarding whether it is safe for my dogs to eat these things? I have no idea what plants (aside from the ones I mentioned) these bugs are eating. The only other plant/bush that is in my yard is a very pretty one that produces yellow, big daisy-like, flowers consistently. I have no idea what it is, but it is about 20 ft high.
    By the way, I do feel bad for these creatures when my boys get them, but seeing how much my boys enjoy playing with and eating them overshadows that!
    Thanks!

  41. Pamela says:

    PS…forgot to mention…when my dog left part of the grasshopper carcass in the grass, I noticed a wasp hovering around it and eventually landed on it and started to–what appeared to be–eating it! Is that something that’s normal? Do wasps eat other insects?

  42. Erin M. says:

    Hi Pamela! I’m sorry to hear about your troubles! It’s a bummer that they have eaten all of your garden plants! I don’t THINK they will hurt your dogs, and if they did, you would probably notice a reaction right away, just like if you were to eat something that didn’t agree with you! Their toxicity does vary, depending on what they’ve been eating, and if they are munching on your garden plants, they are probably not bad! And yes, some wasps are definitely carnivorous!

  43. Pamela says:

    Thanks for your timely reply, Erin! I did check with my Vet and she told me she has never had any dog in for grasshopper toxicity, so that’s good! The only thing I noticed last night after my Emmett ate 3 of them, was that he had the cutest little farts sneaking out during our evening walk! LOL! He’s been with me for 4+ years and I’ve never heard him fart! It was adorable! Thanks again for this great blog 🙂

  44. Laura says:

    How long do they normally live? Mydaughter just got her second one from the university here and he’s a nymph. Her last one died about a week after laying eggs. She is in the process of building his habitat, any recommendations of what to add? We love lubbers!

  45. Erin M. says:

    They live about 6-8 months. I would just add plenty of things to climb on and chew on. they eat foliage in the wild, so I would try offering many different types of leaves to see what it likes to eat. sticks and branches also provide places for it to hang from to molt. Good luck and have fun!!

  46. Stephanie says:

    I’m a teacher in Central Florida and we have had Bernard, the lubber grasshopper, as a pet since July. I think he will be passing on today or tomorrow, but I had a few questions for you. I noticed that about 2-3 weeks ago his legs and antennae started to turn white, is that due to old age or was he perhaps suffering from a deficiency? This was also the ONLY site I could find that mentioned their lifespan, so thank you.

  47. Erin M. says:

    Most likely due to old age!

  48. Gerhard Dirker says:

    Wow. I didn’t know that these guys are virtually harmless. I had my first encounter today with one but immediately felt threatened due to it’s bright colors, so I have to admit with a shameful heart that I had sprayed it with an insecticide. Thank you for the info Erin, at least now I know that these little critters are virtually harmless (human-error factor excluded in that equation). I just wanted to check by you if you can please tell me what habitat to provide it if I keep one as a pet. I would like to study them as I love observing behavior of anything not human. Also, one thing that freaked me out is that they are common in the USA, but I live in South Africa and we don’t really have their preferred habitat here, it’s rather dryish here.
    Gerhard Dirker

  49. Cepasrenan says:

    I saw one in my garage , i panic!! And kill fumigate within one hour arround my house i tough is was a criket/ cokarouch/ black widow kind of thing after this i feel sorry

  50. Bonnie Towles says:

    As a humane way to reduce the number of returning ELG’s in my garden (this year there have been nearly 400), I’ve captured and contained them in a large, screened enclosure with a dirt bottom. I feed them daily leaves from at least 4 or 5 different plants from my garden (they prefer Crinium & Cast Iron plant leaves but also eat leaves from my Air Potato Plants, Alamandras (incl. The flowers) Avocado & Banana Trees, Bidens Alba/Shepherd’s Needles, Caladiums, Cordylines, Crepe Myrtles, Fica Benjamina, Four O’Clocks. Golden Pothos Vine, Peace Lily, Plumeria & Purslane. I also offer them 3 or 4 different vegetables each day– usually carrotts, lettuce and yellow squash, sometimes supplemented with beets, brussel sprouts, green beans, and/or zucchini. I provide them with small pieces of melon two or three days a week. They don’t seem to like apples.

    I try to remove their waste (always a lot of it!) each day and anything left uneaten / wilted. I also remove any sheded carcuses.

    I planned to allow them to live out their lives and if any eggs are deposited (I witnessed at least three matings so far) in the ground at the bottom of their cage, dig up the eggs and dispose of them. Next year I am hoping only a few nymphs will appear and I can treat them more as pets.

    I enjoy watching the ELGs but am losing about 2 or 3 a day, which concerns me. Most are one or two months old & have finished molting; but two have been younger nymphs. Most of the dead I have found simply lying in the cage, sometimes on their sides, but more usually with their legs tucked under them.

    What is disturbing is that I’ve now found at least three … all in their mature stage, in the process of dying and their struggle is long lasting and very hard to watch. They mostly lie on their sides and kick both their forward and back legs Several have taken two or more days to die, struggling nearly the entire time.

    I don’t use pesticides on my plants or near their cage and relatively few have died each week compared to the total number, so I’m at a loss to understand why they are dying, and why their deaths are so prolonged and, seemingly painful. I presume if the variety of food I’m feeding them was causing the deaths, that more would have died. None of them are older than 45-60 days so their deaths would not seem to be from old age.

    I would greatly appreciate any suggestions re: what might be causing these deaths and how, for those that struggle, I can end their lives humanely. I can’t bring myself to drown or step on them. Is there a chemical that would kill them quickly and humanely?

    I can send a video to show their death struggle if that would be helpful in helping to determine what is going on …

  51. Erin M. says:

    Hi Bonnie,

    I’m so sorry to hear this. It sounds like, other than the mysterious deaths, these grasshoppers are living a great life! The only thing that I can think of that would cause deaths like that is something poisonous to them, such as pesticide. Do you have any neighbors that might have treated their yard and perhaps it got onto your plants? In any case, probably the best way to euthanize them to stop their suffering is to put them in the freezer. That is the method that we use here when we have to. Good luck!

  52. Bonnie Towles says:

    Erin …thank you for your response. Since those few early, traumatic deaths, there have been no others like that… so it’s very mystifying. Hopefully I won’t need to euthanize any via freezing, but it is good to know that a relatively humane method exists.

    .Since Jun 9th or so they have been mating very actively. So far, I’ve observed only one attempting to create a cavity in which to lay eggs. I’ve found only three dead mature grasshoppers. All were very large and, apparently, female. Thankfully, I have witnessed no prolonged deaths like the ones I described in my earlier email. All of the original 350+ or so caged grasshoppers have completed their transformation to their mature form, but I recently found 3 grasshoppers in my yard that were still in the nymph stage . I was surprised at their appearance this late in the season.

    Other foods that they appear to like: potatoes (cooked or raw), tomatoes, watermelon rind, cucumbers
    Foods they don’t like: cabbage, iceburg lettuce.

    I am trying to design a cage for use next year that would make cleaning the cage easier, and allow for easy access. They appear to like sun and hang on the sides of the cage (screens) or the various branches I provide. Does the museum provide any plans/suggestions for a cage design?

  53. Bonnie Towles says:

    Erin:
    Sorry to keep questioning you but I would appreciate knowing:
    1. What is the average age of LGH’s? Is if different for males vs. females? Does that change if they are caged?
    2. How soon after mating does the female lay eggs?
    3. How many eggs does the female lay?
    4. Is there a way to treat the soil where the eggs were laid to keep them from hatching, or should the soil be dug up and discarded?
    5. Does mating always result in eggs being layed by the female?
    4. How soon after laying eggs does the female die?
    5. How long after mating does the male die?
    6. Do males and females that have not mated live longer or shorter lives?
    7. Do males mate more than one female if females are available?
    8. Can/will a male mate with a female that has already mated with another male? If so, how does that effect the timing of her egg laying and the number of eggs?
    9. Can you provide links to any indepth informatioin about LGH’s?

    Thank you for any help / information you can provide.

  54. Bobbie says:

    Can animals get sick by having these around the house outside my dog and cat have been throwing up and I have found quite a few of them and kill them thank you

  55. Erin M. says:

    HI Bobbie! Yes, they can cause your dog and cat to get sick, if eaten or chewed on!

  56. Susan Rudd says:

    I do not like these pests. I spend hours in my flower beds planting flowers and tending to them, some of which are not cheap. One type of my lillies that kind of grow in a clump were just covered with them. There were so many, I could barely tell the plant was green! The lubbers were still quite young at that time. We have a calla lily my BIL gave my MIL for Mother’s Day. It is all of a sudden dying when it was just about to bloom purple blooms,and I can tell the leaves have been chewed on. I am constantly pulling these buggers off of it. I have killed many of them. Some flowers don’t come back, and that is a lot of work to let a grasshopper eat them! It hurts my heart to kill them, but I have never seen so many, and I am not about to let my beautiful flowers fall prey to these pests.

  57. Anthony says:

    Hi Erin, I encountered these little critters this weekend while I was in San Antonio, FL, for a retreat. They have been quite docile towards me, letting me come near to take a few pictures and really not caring that I’m walking by. However, after a few days I’ve noticed that some of the males now “post up” as it were on a sidewalk near what I assume to be eggs. When I walk by, they no longer shy away meekly or ignore me, but immediately turn to face me and then rapidly jump and CHASE ME. I’ve had about three different males do this now and I’m just curious if this behavior is related to their mating patterns?

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