eastern lubber

Managing the Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

Daniel CooperPests

eastern lubber
Young (instar one) eastern lubber grasshopper
Photo by Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida

Eastern lubber grasshoppers are out in force in some parts of Florida, munching away on citrus, vegetable crops and landscape plants. They can be found from March or April to about October or November in North Florida and the state’s Gulf Coast. They can be economically important throughout Florida.

Eastern lubber grasshoppers can completely strip foliage from plants. More commonly, though, they eat holes in vegetation and then move onto another leaf or plant, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) researchers say.

UF/IFAS experts recently offered tips for managing the pest.

“I suggest wearing gloves, removing the grasshoppers and dropping them into a soap solution in a bucket” to drown them, entomology Professor Norm Leppla said. “Insecticide sprays usually are not needed or effective.”

Leppla also said the late entomology Professor John Capinera suggested a bait, which Leppla said works.

Fortunately, these insects have lots of natural enemies, Leppla added. One of those predators is the loggerhead shrike, said Tia Silvasy, horticulture Extension agent in Hillsborough County. But when predators do not eat the grasshoppers, the pest munches on the tips or edges of leaves, Silvasy said.

“If you’re going to use a chemical to manage them, spray early in their life cycle, when the grasshoppers are still immature, for best results,” Silvasy said. “As the grasshoppers grow into adults, they are more difficult to kill with chemicals. Look for insecticides containing the active ingredients bifenthrin, cyhalothrin, permethrin, esfenvalerate and spinosad and apply as specified in the label.”

The eastern lubber grasshopper is well known because it’s so big, and it’s used a lot in biology classrooms for dissection.

An Ask IFAS publication on the eastern lubber grasshopper describes it as “quite clumsy and slow” and says it travels by “walking feebly.” In fact, “lubber” comes from an old English word “lobre,” which means lazy or clumsy.

When alarmed, lubbers spread their wings and hiss.

Source: UF/IFAS

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