Social Distancing Fail


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I stumbled across these Eastern Lubber Grasshopper (Romalea microptera) nymphs yesterday while wandering a local park. The adults measure about three inches long, making this one of the largest species of grasshopper in North America.

As for this horde, females lay hundreds of eggs in clusters in the soil. After hatching the nymphs huddle together as they are a desired food source for spiders, other insects, and birds (who have ravenous youngsters to feed this time of year).

Since the species is unable to fly (would be defying the laws of physics at their adult size) they have devised some creative mechanisms of self-defense: they dine on toxic vegetation which provides them a venom they can spit, they also hiss, and assume an attack position when threatened. Yeah, I’d leave them the heck alone!

As a result, the adults are very rarely predated upon. Excepting the Loggerhead Shrike, which is just a badass bird in every way – we should all be glad they aren’t any bigger than they are or we’d all be in trouble!

By the way, lubber derives from old English which means lazy or slow moving. They are fascinating creatures which have mastered some excellent techniques for survival. However, at social distancing? Epic. Fail.

 

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Categories: Nature Notes

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