The biodiverse expanse of the Everglades is a lepidopterist’s delight, serving up really sensational butterfly species. However, the non-avian critter that really caught my attention during my trip to Loxahatchee NWR was the big, beautiful Lubber Grasshopper.
The Eastern Lubber Grasshopper (Romalea guttata or Romalea microptera) is fairly common throughout the southeastern United States, particularly Florida. Notable not only for its size and abundance, the lubber eschews the usual grasshopper greens, grays, and browns. Instead, this insect adopts brilliant patterns according to age and phase. Eastern nymphs look like legionnaires in their ebon armor trimmed with yellow, brandishing legs as red as Mars. The lovely light color phase adult pictured above conjures all the vivid colors of flame, a far cry from the usual cryptic color schemes. Other lubbers across the country appear in different fashions, but all are fairly pleasing in an aesthetic sense. They are sometimes less appreciated agriculturally as they sometimes inflict serious damage to cotton crops. On the bright side, they also attack weeds, serve a vital role in the ecosystem, and look marvelous.