In my last post, Tarantula Territory, I lamented that I didn’t see any tarantulas on a hike but, guess what I did see? A Plains Lubber Grasshopper! The approximately five-inch insect caught my attention–how could it not?–and I had to get a closer look. I looked at her and she at me. We bonded.
I can’t believe I got such a clear photo of her awesome exoskeleton, which protects her against predators and prevents dehydration. (Come to think of it, that could be a great pick-up line. “Excuse me, but you have an awesome exoskeleton.”) Plains Lubbers are native to southern and central USA and Northern Mexico.
Top Ten Cool Facts About Plains Lubber Grasshoppers
- A Plains Lubber can’t fly because its wings are too small.
- A lubber has a pod that holds approximately 20-35 eggs. After incubating in the ground during the colder months, or for as long as two years, the eggs hatch in May or June.
- It uses two pairs of eyes (simple and compound) to see.
- It uses its bluish-brown antennae to feel and smell.
- The tympanum, or round membrane located on either side of its body near its legs allows it to “hear” or detect sound waves.
- To breathe, it has spiracles, or tiny holes located all along the abdomen.
- A lubber is capable of jumping from several inches to several feet using its oversized hind legs.
- A young lubber will molt its exoskeleton five times at roughly 15-day intervals before reaching adulthood.
- Bright coloring and patterning on a lubber’s shell warns predators that it’s unpalatable to downright poisonous. A lubber ingests substances in the plants it eats that, although harmless to humans and the lubber itself, are toxic to many predators. These chemicals may kill smaller creatures such as birds or leave larger animals quite ill after ingesting a lubber.
- To protect against predators, a lubber can secrete a noxious foam while making a loud hissing sound. It can also regurgitate a dark brown liquid (commonly called tobacco spit) as a defense.
Hon, which category are you in? Cool or ewww?
For all of the ewww’s, consider the photos below as visual palette cleansers.