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Love for the Lubber

lubber

Love for the Lubber!

by Nic Napoda

One of my favorite insects can be seen not on our swamp tours, but on the drive there! Scattered all
along Frontage Road during summer are thousands of huge Eastern Lubber grasshoppers, which can
grow to over three inches in length. The name Lubber means clumsy or lazy, which likely describes this
grasshopper’s movements. Unable to fly and too big for more than a short hop, the Lubber must walk,
crawl and stumble along the ground. This makes them easy to catch!

Lubbers range across the southern United States, but they thrive in the habitat bordering Manchac
swamp due to their preference for moist environments and weedy vegetation. Without the ability of flight,
breeding populations remain fairly isolated and the lubber shows significant color variation across its
range. Though eastern varieties are lighter, down in Louisiana our Lubbers have a distinct black
coloration with yellow accents. The bright markings of Lubbers are considered aposematic, or a warning
to predators.

Lubbers create toxins in their blood which may cause sickness if ingested by animals and possess
numerous chemical defenses to ward off predators. If threatened, they may hiss, raise their wings to
expose bright red patches and secrete a foul-smelling foam from their abdomen. Like other
grasshoppers, they can also regurgitate a brown ‘tobacco spit’ liquid of eaten leaves. Lubbers may
seem intimidating, but they are harmless to humans who pick them up. So next time you see a Lubber,
don’t hesitate to take a closer look at this interesting insect, the biggest of all grasshoppers in the United
States!

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