Saturday, July 31, 2010

Eastern lubber grasshopper

Adult Eastern Lubbers
In South Florida, you can find these critters all year round, with a peak in early summer. In most of its range (the rest of the Southeastern US) they are seasonal.

I was surprised to learn that despite their size (3" or 8 cm -ish), lubbers (Romalea microptera) cause less damage to crops and plants than smaller grasshoppers. In the home landscape, they're particularly fond of plants in the Amaryllidaceae family. I've seen them decimate crinum lilies used in public parks, for instance, as the smaller photo illustrates.

Lubber damage on a crinum lily
The best way to deal with them is to look for the young black-with-yellow nymphs, which like to cluster together, and dispose of them, because once they're large adults, they are much harder to find and kill, by then being resistant to most backyard insecticides.

If you need more info, check out the University of Florida's Featured Creature page.

15 comments:

Bangchik said...

There are small grasshoppers in our garden that love leafy vegetables so much. Even the body is green, probably full of chlorophyll... ~bangchik

Floridagirl said...

~~~s~h~u~d~d~e~r~~~

Oh, how I hate these beasts! Many of my crinums look like rags right now.

NanaK said...

I have had a bumper crop of these ugly things this year. Fortunately, this past week they seem to have slowed down. They chewed one of my crinums at the top of the bulb so that the whole thing toppled over. I'm pretty tolerant of most creatures in my garden, even insects, but NOT lubbers.

Terra Mirabilis said...

@Bangchik: I was just looking on Wikipedia and it says there are some 11,000 species of grasshopper, and likely many undiscovered. The only good thing is that most of them don't swarm...

@FG and @Nana: They sure do love crinums! I set a reminder in April to check the garden for the small nymphs, which works really well; I only had to do that for a couple of years and I've not had a problem since. :)

David said...

Whoa! Are these in your garden? I have tiny green grasshoppers, but nothing like these.
Love your garden blog...always interesting!
David (Tropical Texana) :-)

MrBrownThumb said...

Wow, that damaged crinum lily is really sad. Wish I could grow them in the ground here.

Meems said...

H A T E
L U B B E R S!!!!!!
The nymphs usually show up around here in Feb/Mar. I am on the lookout for them and dispose of as many as possible. Still the adults plague my garden in the worst way come summer.

This year they have been especially cruel. My Queen Emma crinums look like your photo... eaten to shreds. As well as most varieties of my lily foliage. And I seek out and kill (by squishing) the lubbers E V E R Y D A Y.

Honestly, I see no redeeming value in grasshoppers of this sort in the residential environment so they are one insect I destroy without blinking.

Whew... thanks for letting me rant.
(btw ~love your header photo)
Meems

Anonymous said...

Yes, noticed these critters more this summer than ever before...as a kid we always called them 'Georgia Thumpers' (a description passed along from my grandmother) The little black younguns' came along in abundance to produce these monster eaters this year...must have been perfect weather conditions or something.

Terra Mirabilis said...

@David: Thanks! Fortunately, they're NOT in my garden, but I have plenty of tempting plants so I have to be vigilant.

@MBT: Sorry, crinums are tropical. However, I have vague memories of seeing the Queen Emma ones (with huge bronze leaves) one summer planted along Michigan Ave. I guess Chicago has somewhere to overwinter them.

@Meems: Feel free to rant! I think this post touched a few nerves. LOL!

@Anonymous: I've realized it's the first time in many years I've seen so many of them. I count my blessings they're just not in my garden!

Susan said...

I almost didn't read your post because these guys rub me the wrong way. They have eaten almost all of my amaryllis and bit my crinum off right at the base...ugh! I go after them like crazy in spring.

Terra Mirabilis said...

Hey, Susan. If you've read the previous comments, you'll know you're not alone ...

Kimberly said...

I'm so glad you posted a photo of this pest. To me, a grass hopper is a grass hopper. But I can see the difference in the size and markings by your photo. I have numerous crinum and haven't had a big problem with these lubbers, but will definitely keep an eye open for them.

Terra Mirabilis said...

Hi, Kimberley. Glad to have been of use. And long may your garden be free of lubbers!

Kimberly said...

Well, since my move, I have now seen these little lubbers...nymphs all over my crinum!!! I noticed this post again after googling the nymph for positive ID...now you've helped me twice with one post!!! THANKS!!!!

Terra Mirabilis said...

@Kimberly. Glad (and sad) to have been so useful. It does seem that crinums are the feast of choice. :-(