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Genus Romalea - Lubber Grasshoppers
Classification · Synonyms and other taxonomic changes · Explanation of Names · Numbers · Identification · See Also · Print References · Works Cited
Genus Romalea (Lubber Grasshoppers)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Romalea Serville, 1831. Genotype: Acridium micropterum Beauvois
Rhomalea Saussure, 1859 [alternate spelling for the same name]
Explanation of Names
Author of genus is Serville, 1831. New Latin, properly Rhomalea, from Greek ρωμαλεοσ, strong of body, from ρωμη, bodily strength (1).
There is just one North American species in this genus, the Eastern Lubber Grasshopper, Romalea microptera; synonym Romalea guttata(2).
No other species within this one's distribution is likely to be confused with Romalea microptera. So far Romalea microptera and the closely related and similar Horse Lubber - Taeniopoda eques have not been found in the same region, but they could meet in southern Texas, where the two could be confused. Taeniopoda has a higher, more pronounced median ridge on the pronotum, and in the U.S. rarely occurs in any color other than black. See species account for Taeniopoda eques.
Taeniopoda eques and Romalea microptera have been hybridized in the laboratory, producing intermediate offspring (Stauffer & Whitman 2007). There is little basis for Taeniopoda being considered as a distinct genus, but for the time being it is.
The Century Dictionary--entry for Romalea(1)
Arnett, p. 169 (2)
Stauffer, W.T. & D.W. Whitman, 2007, 'Divergent Oviposition Behaviors in a Desert vs. a Marsh Grasshopper', Journal of Orthoptera Research 16(1): 103-114. [Includes interesting observations on behavior of both R. microptera & T. eques, and comments on their ability to hybridize.]
Contributed by Cotinis on 18 March, 2004 - 2:29pm
Additional contributions by David Ferguson
Last updated 8 October, 2015 - 3:09pm
Home » Guide » Arthropods (Arthropoda) » Hexapods (Hexapoda) » Insects (Insecta) » Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids (Orthoptera) » Grasshoppers (Caelifera) » Short-horned Grasshoppers (Acrididae) » Lubber Grasshoppers (Romaleinae) » Lubber Grasshoppers (Romalea) » Eastern Lubber Grasshopper (Romalea microptera)
Species Romalea microptera - Eastern Lubber Grasshopper
Classification · Synonyms and other taxonomic changes · Explanation of Names · Size · Identification · Range · Habitat · Season · Food · Life Cycle · Remarks · Print References · Internet References · Works Cited
Species microptera (Eastern Lubber Grasshopper)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Gryllus (Locusta) guttatus, Houttuyn, 1813, described from Georgia [nomen oblitum]
Dictyophorus reticulatus Thunberg, 1815, described from "western America" (in error, or perhaps named in relation to a different national sense of geography at the time) [nomen oblitum]
Acridium micropterumBeauvois, 1817, described from South Carolina [nomen protectum]
Romalea marci Serville, 1838, described from South Carolina
Dictyophorus marci (Serville) Pictet & Saussure, 1887
Dictyophorus micropterus (Beauvois) Pictet & Saussure, 1887
Dictyophorus guttatus (C. Stoll) Rehn, J.A.G. & Hebard, 1905
Romalea gloveri W. F. Kirby, 1910, described from Missouri (perhaps in error)
Romalea microptera (Beauvois) Rehn, J.A.G. & Hebard, 1912
Romalea guttata (C. Stoll) Vickery & D.K.M. Kevan, 1983
Romalea microptera and Romalea guttata are older synonyms. David J. Ferguson gives some of the history (summarized from an e-mail to P. Coin 6 February 2008):
The name Romalea microptera was granted the status of nomen protectum by the commision on zoological nomenclature--this would gives it official status as the valid name. (This is also the name used by Orthoptera Species File.) The names guttatus & reticulatus have been given the status of nomen oblitum, which makes them officially unavailable for use.
Explanation of Names
Species name guttata is Latin for spotted. Species name microptera is from micro-, small, plus pteron wing, both Greek (Internet searches).
Common name Lubber means "a clumsy or lazy person" (from Middle English lobre meaning lazy, or lout, related to lob). The use for this grasshopper likely refers to their slow movements--with ample chemical defenses, this grasshopper does not need to move quickly.
45-55 mm (adult male), 50-70 mm (adult female)
Distinguished by huge size and vivid yellow/red/black coloration, with hind wings red bordered black. Flightless. Dark red to black nymph (juvenile) with contrasting yellow to red stripes, also distinctive.
Taeniopoda eques is most similar, but found further west. No other species is likely to be confused.
Southeastern United States, including all of Florida. Only lubber in east.
Open pine woods, fields, roadsides, lawns, croplands, esp. moist areas.
All year in Florida, though not as common in winter.
Many herbs and shrubs. Favorite foods are said to include: Pokeweed, Phytolaca americana; Tread-softly, Cnidoscolus stimmulosus; Pickerel Weed, Pontederia cordata; Lizard's Tail, Saururus sp.; Sedges, Cyperus; and Arrowhead, Sagittaria sp. (Grasshoppers of Florida).
There is one generation per year. During the summer, females lay masses of about 50 eggs in soil excavations about 5 cm deep. Each female lays one to three separate masses of eggs. Eggs overwinter in the soil, with hatching in early spring. Five juvenile instars, each typically lasting 20 days, ensue. Juveniles (nymphs) tend to stick together in groups near a food source. (This probably enhances the effectiveness of their warning coloration.)
Adults are flightless. Coloration is aposematic (warning), apparently this species is distasteful to vertebrate predators. When disturbed, it will spread its wings, hiss, and secrete a smelly fluid from its spiracles (1).
In some regions individuals are prevalently black, in others orange or yellow.
Capinera, Grasshoppers of Florida, pp. 126-127, plate 102 (1)
Capinera, Field Guide to Grasshoppers..., pp. 149-150, plate 32 (2)
Deyrup, Florida's Fabulous Insects, pp. 36-37--several beautiful photos (3)
|1.||Grasshoppers of Florida (Invertebrates of Florida)|
John L. Capinera, Clay W. Scherer, Jason M. Squiter, Jason M. Squitier. 2002. University Press of Florida.
|2.||Field Guide To Grasshoppers, Katydids, And Crickets Of The United States|
John L. Capinera, Ralph D. Scott, Thomas J. Walker. 2004. Cornell University Press.
|3.||Florida's Fabulous Insects|
Mark Deyrup, Brian Kenney, Thomas C. Emmel. 2000. World Publications.
Contributed by Cotinis on 18 March, 2004 - 2:58pm
Additional contributions by Hannah Nendick-Mason, David Ferguson, metrioptera
Last updated 1 August, 2014 - 1:17pm