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Horse Lubber Grasshopper

Taeniopoda eques

 

image © by Robert Shantz

Photographed southwest of Duncan, Arizona, USA Sept. 6 2002 by Robert Shantz.

Romaleidae -- Lubber Grasshopper Family

First time visitors to Southeastern Arizona during the late summer months are flabbergasted to find a grasshopper decked out in the most bizarre assortment of colors. On a background of black are bright yellow lines, lime green netting and white. And just when the ecotourists think they have seen everything, the hoppers open their wings to reveal hot pink undergarments.

The colors aren't part of a drag costume, instead they warn potential predators that this hopper tastes really bad and might be poisonous. They themselves, apparently don't mind the taste as evidenced by how readily they cannibalize hoppers that have been crushed by taste-insensitive automobile tires.

On occasion these horse lubbers are quite numerous and march relentlessly across roads where many are killed. In the Sonoran Desert this species might be encountered on the fringes south and east of Tucson, Arizona. Otherwise it is a denizen of the Madrean- Oak Woodland habitats in Arizona.

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