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Species Phrynotettix robustus - Robust Toad Lubber

Phrynotettix robustus - female mating Robust Toad Lubbers - Phrynotettix robustus - male - female Robust Toad Lubber - Phrynotettix robustus - female Grasshopper from Big Bend National Park area - Phrynotettix robustus - female Phrynotettix robustus mating - Phrynotettix robustus - male - female Unknown Orthoptera? - Phrynotettix robustus Massive west Texas grass hopper  - Phrynotettix robustus - female Phrynotettix robustus - female
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids)
Suborder Caelifera (Grasshoppers)
Family Romaleidae (Lubber Grasshoppers)
Genus Phrynotettix (Toad Lubbers)
Species robustus (Robust Toad Lubber)
Explanation of Names
The name "Toad" is well earned, as these grasshoppers are very toad-like. The name "Lubber" comes from the species' placement within the Romaleinae.
Size
roughly one to two inches (25 to 50 mm), with males much smaller than females.
Identification
Stocky broad-bodied grasshoppers, very "pebble-like", with very short wings (much shorter in females) behind the large shield-like pronotum. Color is usually pale whitish, tan, or grayish, often with scattered darker spots or mottling.

Phrynotettix tshivavensis is the only other species in this genus within the United States, and the only species likely to be confused with this one. It is usually darker in color (preferring to live in an environment of darker igneous rocks), with the inner face of the hind femur mostly black (mostly pale in this species). It also averages smaller in size and ranges further west (overlapping ranges in Chihuahua and New Mexico). It favors desert grassland environments over desert, and tends to occur at higher elevations and ranges further north than this species. Apparently P. tshivavensis overwinters as eggs, and usually matures in June or July, being most common as adults in summer.

Nymphs of some Band-winged Grasshoppers (such as Leprus and Xanthippus) can look very similar, but have the pronotum less well-developed, and have only one stationary spine at the tip of the hind tibia (the one on the outer side is missing; don't count the longer movable "spurs"). In Lubber Grasshoppers there is a complete last pair of spines, with one on both the inner and outer side. Older nymphs of Band-winged Grasshoppers will show larger triangular wing pads typical of long-winged species of Grasshoppers. (they are not so obvious in Phrynotettix)
Range
Trans-Pecos Texas and southeast to central New Mexico
Habitat
Usually light colored gravel pavement in Chihuahuan Desert
Season
Adults most abundant in late winter and spring, particularly in March and April, some living until autumn.
Food
unknown. Nymphs in captivity seem to refuse most plants, and seem to refuse grasses, so natural food plants are probably dicots, mostly likely small shrubby or herbaceous species.
Life Cycle
Nymphs are abundant in late summer, autumn, and winter, and apparently mature in February, March, or April, depending upon location and weather.
Remarks
Adults are usually found paired. They are very difficult to see unless one is looking closely for them, as they tend to be well camouflaged, and slow to move. They hop rather clumsily and short distances.