I love the texture of his/her armor... the dark dimpled patches. And the brilliant navy, brilliant yellow and deep red patterns. The complex mouth parts. The delightfully segmented, highly flexible antennae! And the shiny bulging navy eyes!
What a beautiful creature you are, my Lubber friend! Worthy of sacrificing a Crinum Lily patch, indeed there is little left of it!
My first glimpse of Lubbers was a delightful surprise! Each morning I walk the same route through my neighborhood. And for the first time, there were tiny navy blue hoppers scrambling along the edges and valleys of a sunlit Agave I photographed the day before.
I had no experience taking pictures of insects in general or these tiny creatures in particular, so their sudden appearance opened up a new world for me. And, I must confess, macro-shooting them day after day made me fall in love with them and their life cycle.
Every morning, I walked past that spot and the fun began! Those little navy hoppers ate and ate and grew larger and larger. Once they finished off the tender green Agave, they moved to a nearby Crinum Lily which looked worse and worse as they devoured it leaf by leaf.
Then one morning I discovered something new… one of my navy Lubbers had turned to gold.. and become much larger! Was this a female and were the navy ones males, or what? The researcher in me went into action, urged on by the fact that lots of you seemed to be curious too!
Like all grasshoppers, Eastern Lubbers molt, as nymphs, through successive stages, or instars. These stages or instars are called nymphs. Lubbers go through a total of five instars of 15 to 20 days each before molting to the golden adult stage. So I had one of my answers… the golden one was simply more mature… a later instar or shed.
I found my Lubbers to be amazingly friendly… coming out to see me when I couldn’t see them… even in the rain. Peeking around leaves to make sure I was still there. Not hopping away when I took their picture, even though my flash was clearly annoying.
And those early shots led to a new set, Lubbers egg to shed. One you'll want to visit to see more about their life cycle and even catch of glimpse of them shedding their skin!
Eastern Lubber, Romalea microptera
For more, see my set Lubbers egg to shed.