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Species Romalea microptera - Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

Mature Lubber Grasshopper - Romalea microptera - male Ovipositing/mate guarding - Romalea microptera - male - female Grasshopper - Romalea microptera - male Eastern Lubber grasshopper - Romalea microptera Eastern Lubber Grasshopper - Romalea microptera - female Locust or Grasshopper? - Romalea microptera - female Eastern Lubber Grasshopper - Romalea microptera - Romalea microptera Small Grasshopper or Cricket - Romalea microptera
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids)
Suborder Caelifera (Grasshoppers)
Family Acrididae (Short-horned Grasshoppers)
Subfamily Romaleinae (Lubber Grasshoppers)
Genus Romalea (Lubber Grasshoppers)
Species microptera (Eastern Lubber Grasshopper)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Gryllus (Locusta) guttatus, Houttuyn, 1813, described from Georgia [nomen oblitum]
Dictyophorus reticulatus Thunberg, 1815, described from "western America" (in error, or perhaps named in relation to a different national sense of geography at the time) [nomen oblitum]
Acridium micropterum Beauvois, 1817, described from South Carolina [nomen protectum]
Romalea marci Serville, 1838, described from South Carolina
Dictyophorus marci (Serville) Pictet & Saussure, 1887
Dictyophorus micropterus (Beauvois) Pictet & Saussure, 1887
Dictyophorus guttatus (C. Stoll) Rehn, J.A.G. & Hebard, 1905
Romalea gloveri W. F. Kirby, 1910, described from Missouri (perhaps in error)
Romalea microptera (Beauvois) Rehn, J.A.G. & Hebard, 1912
Romalea guttata (C. Stoll) Vickery & D.K.M. Kevan, 1983

Romalea microptera and Romalea guttata are older synonyms. David J. Ferguson gives some of the history (summarized from an e-mail to P. Coin 6 February 2008):
The name Romalea microptera was granted the status of nomen protectum by the commision on zoological nomenclature--this would gives it official status as the valid name. (This is also the name used by Orthoptera Species File.) The names guttatus & reticulatus have been given the status of nomen oblitum, which makes them officially unavailable for use.
Explanation of Names
Species name guttata is Latin for spotted. Species name microptera is from micro-, small, plus pteron wing, both Greek (Internet searches).
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.
Size
45-55 mm (adult male), 50-70 mm (adult female)
Identification
Distinguished by huge size and vivid yellow/red/black coloration, with hind wings red bordered black. Flightless. Dark red to black nymph (juvenile) with contrasting yellow to red stripes, also distinctive.

Taeniopoda eques is most similar, but found further west. No other species is likely to be confused.
Range
Southeastern United States, including all of Florida. Only lubber in east.
Habitat
Open pine woods, fields, roadsides, lawns, croplands, esp. moist areas.
Season
All year in Florida, though not as common in winter.
Food
Many herbs and shrubs. Favorite foods are said to include: Pokeweed, Phytolaca americana; Tread-softly, Cnidoscolus stimmulosus; Pickerel Weed, Pontederia cordata; Lizard's Tail, Saururus sp.; Sedges, Cyperus; and Arrowhead, Sagittaria sp. (Grasshoppers of Florida).
Life Cycle
There is one generation per year. During the summer, females lay masses of about 50 eggs in soil excavations about 5 cm deep. Each female lays one to three separate masses of eggs. Eggs overwinter in the soil, with hatching in early spring. Five juvenile instars, each typically lasting 20 days, ensue. Juveniles (nymphs) tend to stick together in groups near a food source. (This probably enhances the effectiveness of their warning coloration.)
Remarks
Adults are flightless. Coloration is aposematic (warning), apparently this species is distasteful to vertebrate predators. When disturbed, it will spread its wings, hiss, and secrete a smelly fluid from its spiracles (1).
In some regions individuals are prevalently black, in others orange or yellow.
Print References
Capinera, Grasshoppers of Florida, pp. 126-127, plate 102 (1)
Capinera, Field Guide to Grasshoppers..., pp. 149-150, plate 32 (2)
Deyrup, Florida's Fabulous Insects, pp. 36-37--several beautiful photos (3)
Works Cited
1.Grasshoppers of Florida (Invertebrates of Florida)
John L. Capinera, Clay W. Scherer, Jason M. Squiter, Jason M. Squitier. 2002. University Press of Florida.
2.Field Guide To Grasshoppers, Katydids, And Crickets Of The United States
John L. Capinera, Ralph D. Scott, Thomas J. Walker. 2004. Cornell University Press.
3.Florida's Fabulous Insects
Mark Deyrup, Brian Kenney, Thomas C. Emmel. 2000. World Publications.