The oddly colored insect with its bright greens and yellows is one of the largest grasshoppers.They sport pink coloring under their wings. The markings on their face resemble a bridle hence their Latin name, Taeniopoda eques (eques - horse rider). The bright colors warn predators that they don't taste good and may be poisonous. That's always a plus if you're a bug. Their size is a bit daunting and they can reach a length of 2.5 inches.
It's common to see battalions of horse lubbers marching across country roads this time of year and being crunched under tires of passing vehicles. It's sort of like the lemmings jumping into the sea. Because of their size, they don't fly all that well and make a clicking sound when they try.If you're walking through the grass, these monster grasshoppers scatter, jumping every which way. I don't like that at all. It's kind of creepy. They prefer the southwest as their habitat, and are common in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
Horse lubbers have attitude, and if disturbed they may drop to the ground and hiss. They've even been known to snap their forewings. Great--don't you think? Just what we need, an angry grasshopper of large proportions. Fortunately, I haven't observed this particular behavior since I do my best to avoid them. They'll be with us throughout the fall however, finally succumbing to the cold in November.
|Photo by Robert Shantz|
It seems that the high desert always has interesting critters and everything is a little bigger, a little more unusual, and sometimes a little meaner. Hopefully we won't be the subject of a news report about grasshoppers taking over southeast Arizona. But it might make a good sci-fi movie -- The Invasion of the Horse Lubbers. Catchy right?