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Romalea guttata, known commonly as the eastern lubber grasshopper or just lubber grasshopper, is a grasshopper native to the southeastern and south central portion of the United States. It is the most distinctive grasshopper species within the southeastern United States, and is well known both for its size and its unique coloration. It can reach nearly 3 inches (8 cm) in size. It was previously known as Romalea microptera (Beauvois).
Romalea guttata goes through several stages, like all insects. When in the nymph stage, it is smaller than in the adult stage, wingless and completely black with one or more yellow, orange or red stripes. In the adult stage, they reach 2.5–3 in (64–76 mm), grow wings half the length of their body and become either a dull yellow often characterized by black spots and markings, a bright orange with black markings, or entirely black (as in the nymph stage) with yellow or red striping. In the black adult color phase, the grasshopper is widely known by the name "diablo" or "black diablo". In Louisiana, they are known as the Devil's horse or cheval-diable. The insect is also colloquially known as a "graveyard grasshopper". In Mississippi they are known as "Giant Locust".
Romalea guttata occurs west of North Carolina to Tennessee, in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas, and throughout Florida and Arizona. They live in open pinewoods, weedy vegetation and weedy fields. Sometimes these grasshoppers live in sewers, since grass and other food sources accumulate there.
Size and wings
Romalea guttata can reach net 3 in (76 mm) in size. Their wings are rarely 1½ the length of the abdomen; most of the time they are much smaller than that, and cannot be used for flight. Accordingly, they can only jump short distances.
Romalea guttata has many ways of defense. The first is its brightly colored warning pattern (aposematism). The insect emits a foul-smelling and foul-tasting foamy secretion from the thorax when it is disturbed. The secretion is dark colored and opaque. It also lets off a loud hissing sound that can scare animals.
Close-up of Romalea guttata from Everglades
- Houttuyn, 1813. In Stoll, C., (1813) Représentation exactement colorée d’après nature des Spectres ou Phasmes, des Mantes, des Sauterelles, des Grillons, des Criquets et des blattes qui se trouvent dans les quatre parties du monde Amsterdam.
- C. W. Scherer (February 2008). "Eastern Lubber Grasshopper, Romalea microptera (Beauvois) (= guttata (Houttuyn)) (Insecta: Orthoptera: Acrididae)". University of Florida.
- D. K. M. Kevan (1980). "Romalea guttata (Houttuyn), name change for well-known "eastern lubber grasshopper" (Orthoptera: Romaleidae)". Entomological News 91 (4): 139–140.
- Richard Fox (October 6, 2006). "Romalea microptera, Eastern Lubber Grasshopper". Invertebrate Anatomy Online. Lander University. Retrieved April 4, 2011.