What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

lousiana grasshopper
Sun, Apr 5, 2009 at 11:31 PM
Dear Bugman,
I worked at a volunteer camp in St. Bernard, Louisiana for a couple of years and these huge grasshoppers were always a source of wonder! When they are little, they’re half and inch long and slowly roamed around in packs of 20+.
A few weeks later, they were about four inches long and traveled solo. They are so large that they can’t even really jump! When they tried, they often landed on their sides.
In the pics, the big guy looks like he is all black, but I am pretty sure he had the red and yellow marks like the little ones do.
They really creeped out all of the out-of-town recovery volunteeers. The locals called them Devil Horses. Any idea about these grasshoppers?
Sarah
St. Bernard, LA

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

Hi Sarah,
What a delightful written account of your encounters with the Eastern Lubber Grasshopper, Romalea microptera.  This large species is distasteful to predators, which is why it has such slow lazy movements, there is no need for it to try to escape.  According to BugGuide:  “Common name lubber means “a clumsy or lazy person” (from Middle English lobre meaning lazy, or lout, related to lob ). The use for this grasshopper likely refers to their slow movements–with ample chemical defenses, this grasshopper does not need to move quickly. ”  The species has variable coloration, with one morph appearing as a bright yellow-orange form.

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper Nymphs

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
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4 Responses to Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

  1. Leo-Paul Babineau says:

    I just saw some people catching these grass hoppers in Louisiana. These grass hoppers are big. What do they catch them for? I am from New Brunswick Canada and a long lost cousin of the Cajuns, and curious.

    • bugman says:

      We aren’t entirely sure why most people do most of the things they do. Did they seem to be harvesting the Lubbers? We imagine they are among the most nutritious insects there are. We will try to contact David Gracer to see if he knows if Louisiana locals eat Grasshoppers.

  2. Dave says:

    Greetings, and apologies for the delay in response.

    Lubbers: they’re a special case in the annals of entomophagy. My colleague and friend David George Gordon has served them for many years, when he can get them. Yet their seemingly-toxic properties are well-documented; various animals will eat one; vomit; and refuse to sample others. I’ve eaten them and served them once or twice; they’re not tasty, but there’s nothing all that bad about them. Other grasshopper species are clearly tastier, though usually less visually impressive.

    One of these days I might be able to get to the bottom of this conundrum, but there are bigger questions out there.

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