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Genus Taeniopoda - Horse Lubbers

Horse lubber nymph grasshopper - Taeniopoda eques - female Desert Grasshopper - Taeniopoda eques - male Horse Lubber - Taeniopoda eques - female Horse Lubber Grasshopper at Big Bend National Park - Taeniopoda eques - female Horse Lubber - Taeniopoda eques Female, Taeniopoda eques? - Taeniopoda eques - female Female, Taeniopoda eques? - Taeniopoda eques - female Taeniopoda eques - 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 Taeniopoda (Horse Lubbers)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Taeniopoda Stål, 1873. Genotype: Taeniopoda picticornis (F. Walker) Stål
Explanation of Names
Closely related to the genus Romalea of the southeast US. The primarily morphological distinction is the lower crest of the pronotum in Romalea. The species R. microptera and T. eques can be hybridized in the laboratory, and are closely related (Stauffer & Whitman, 2007). Taeniopoda should probably be included within the genus Romalea, but some of the relevant species combinations required by this move have not yet been published, and a recombining of the two genera has not formally been published yet.
Numbers
Approximately 6 to 12 Central American and Mexican species (depending upon author, with only one found north of Mexico in the sw. United States.
Identification
Large clumsy grasshoppers, usually yellow or at least yellowish and black in color with hind wings red bordered black, and tegmina with a netted pattern of black and yellow that follows the veins. Most individuals cannot fly, but some with longest wings can apparently add some distance to their jumps, almost, but not quite taking to the air.
Nearly identical to Romalea, differing primarily in having the median ridge of the pronotum more elevated, and most often more even in color pattern.
Range
sw. U.S. (w. Texas, s. New Mexico, se. Arizona) southward through Mexico and Central America.
Food
Apparently omnivorous, but favoring certain broad-leaved herbaceous and shrubby plants. Often found on Mesquite (Prosopis species). Often seen wandering on roads in large numbers, eating other smashed insects (including their own kind).
Life Cycle
Overwinter as eggs. Nymphs are gregarious and start out dark red and yellow; later black, red, and yellow (or orange); and finally black and yellow. Adults in summer and autumn.
Remarks
These are harmless, but somewhat intimidating insects, often rearing up and spreading wings in threat displays when disturbed (especially the males), capable of producing a clicking sound (probably with the wings), and also a faint hissing sound. Like Romalea they can apparently also produce a nasty frothy material from their mesothoracic spiracles, but rarely do so. Their coloring is believed to be aposematic (warning), as this species is supposedly distasteful to predators.
They have a lot of personality, and actually make interesting pets that can live for several months if well cared for.
See Also
Print References
1925, Hebard, Morgan, 'A Revision of the Genus Taeniopoda (Orthoptera, Acrididae, Cyrtacanthacrinae)', Transactions of the American Entomological Society 50(4): 253-274
2007, Stauffer, W.T. & D.W. Whitman, 'Divergent Oviposition Behaviors in a Desert vs. a Marsh Grasshopper', Journal of Orthoptera Research 16(1): 103-114. Includes interesting observations on behavior of both R. microptera & T. eques.
2017, Vladimir Salvador De Jesús-Bonilla, Ludivina Barrientos-Lozano & Alejandro Zaldívar‐riverón, 'Sequence-based species delineation and molecular phylogenetics of the transitional Nearctic–Neotropical grasshopper genus Taeniopoda (Orthoptera, Romaleidae)', Systematics and Biodiversity, May: 1-18