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Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper , Romalea guttata (Latreille), the colorful Eastern Lubber Grasshopper is one of the most common grasshoppers in Georgia. The Eastern Lubber grasshopper sometimes occurs in large enough numbers in Georgia to cause damage to plants in the garden and landscape.

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

A large, distinctive grasshopper, the Eastern Lubber, or Georgia Thumper Romalea microptera can be easily identified in the landscape. The adults are black, red, and yellow but colors vary depending on the phase of growth. The fully grown size of the females and males are about 6.0 and 8.0cm, respectively. The adult winds are yellow with black dots and are half the length of the abdomen, therefore, useless for long-distance flying.

Lubbers have a very distinctive appearance. Immature grasshoppers (nymphs) are typically black with one or more distinctive yellow or red stripes and are wingless. The front legs and sides of the head are often red. Upon hatching they crawl up out of the soil and congregate near suitable food sources.

Life Cycle: Adult Romalea microptera exist nearly throughout the year in Florida with their numbers dwindling during the fall and winter period. They have one generation per year, with eggs beginning to hatch in February in South Florida while the rest of the state usually doesn’t see this species until March. Eastern lubbers, like all grasshoppers, grow through successive stages after molting. These stages are referred to as nymphs. Lubbers have a total of five instars before molting into the adult stage. The length of these instars vary slightly but average 15 to 20 days each. The highest number of adults can be observed during the months of July and August.

Females will begin laying eggs during the summer months. After mating, females use the tip of the abdomen to dig a small hole into a suitable patch of soil. Usually at a depth of about two inches, she will deposit up to 50 eggs contained within a light foamy froth. Each female will lay from one to three egg masses. These eggs will remain in the soil through late fall and winter and then begin hatching in March. The young grasshoppers crawl up out of the soil upon hatching and seem to congregate near suitable food sources. Lubbers are often found in damp or wet habitats, but seek drier sites for egg-laying.

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

Populations cycle up and down, possibly due to the action of parasites. The tachinid fly Anisia serotina attains high levels of parasitism, sometimes 60-90%.

Hosts: Wide range of cultivated crops including citrus, vegetables, landscape ornamental plants, especially amaryll and crinum, spider, and rain lilies.

Importance: The eastern lubber grasshopper rarely occurs in high enough numbers to cause significant damage to gardens and ornamentals, and is considered only a nuisance. Most of the small nymphs die naturall.

Damage: The Eastern lubber grasshopper feeds on most plant parts by chewing holes or feeding on the leaf margins. It is typically not an economic problem. Older nymphs can cause cosmetic damage to some ornamentals.

Controls: The size of the eastern lubber grasshopper is a little misleading when one considers they require far less food material than most of the more injurious species of grasshoppers that are only one-third as large or smaller.

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper damage

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

Grasshopper abundance can be regulated through management of the vegetation. If you deprive grasshoppers of their favored food, often they will leave or perish. Keeping the vegetation mowed is very helpful, as short vegetation does not often support grasshoppers

Lubber grasshoppers will often develop initially in moist areas around ponds and irrigation ditches, then later migrate to homes, yards, and crops. Rather than waiting for the grasshoppers to come to you, it is often best to take the battle to them. So check potential breeding or feeding sites for signs of grasshoppers. The young grasshoppers remain clustered in groups, but as they get older they are more likely to be solitary. If you cannot control them through mowing, try hand-picking. You can throw them into a bucket of soapy water or a trash bag to kill them.

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