Tag Archives: grasshopper

My Top 5 FUNky facts about the eastern lubber grasshopper

Lubber grasshopper on Sanibel IslandI mobile-blogged a slightly cloudy version of this photo a couple of weeks ago. My niece and I encountered this lubber grasshopper while on line to see the premiere of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I’ve done a little research and found out some FUNky facts about lubber grasshoppers.

1) RANGE: You might have seen one of these critters while vacationing at Walt Disney World or elsewhere in Florida. In fact, the range of this extraordinary creature, so lobster-like in appearance, extends across the southeastern United states from North Carolina to Texas.

2) GROUNDED: Even though lubber grasshoppers have wings, they cannot fly. To get around, they jump or crawl. This one was crawling rather pathetically up and down the cigarette butt receptacle outside the movie theater. It felt around before taking a step, so much so that I thought lubber grasshoppers might be blind. However, I’ve found no evidence suggesting sight issues, so I guess maybe they are just very careful crawlers.

3) COSTUME CHANGES: Lubber grasshoppers go through several colorful stages; this lobster color is representative of an adult in a light colored phase. Other phases can include stripes, green, yellow and deep navy blue. They don’t just turn colors; they molt! Man, I wish I could find the shell of one that has molted. It would be cool to have because it would look pretty without actually being a creepy-crawly critter 😉

4) REPRODUCTION: Females lay their eggs in the summer time; the eggs hatch in the southern part of Florida in February, but wait until March over the rest of the lubber’s range.

5) MISCHIEF: The lubber has been known to cause significant damage to vegetable and citrus crops. The best way to control lubbers is to remove their habitat – they like dense vegetation in moist areas, so if swales and roadsides are kept clear of vegetation, the lubbers will move on to denser pastures and not migrate over to chow down on your orange trees.

More information: eastern lubber grasshopper – Romalea guttata (Houttuyn).

Happy Critturday!

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Disney critters at work and play

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IMG_1992-WDW-DTD-Cashier-grasshopper-ants🙂 I was in Walt Disney World (where else?), standing in line at the big World of Disney store in Downtown Disney, waiting for my opportunity to indulge in some rampant consumerism. The Cast Member who was ringing up the woman ahead of me was inexperienced, slow and giving out some really bad advice about where discounts could and could not be had. Bored, impatient, but trying to be nice and pleasant and Zen about it, I glanced at the ceiling and smiled with genuine delight – there, painted on the ceiling, were the subjects of one of my all-time favorite Silly Symphonies.

Disney’s Silly Symphonies are a series of 75 short, animated films produced over a period of about ten years during the 1930s. In fact, the very first full Technicolor film was a Silly Symphony called Flowers and Trees. Some of these short films were based upon myths, legends, morality tales and fables. One of Aesop’s best fables made cut – The Grasshopper and the Ants.

IMG_1991The story features a grasshopper who fiddles and sings his way through summer, when food is abundant, and scoffs at the ants, hard at work setting aside stores for the lean months ahead. Winter finds the grasshopper collapsing on the ants’ doorstep, starved and nearly frozen. In pity, they take him in and care for him, but the arrival of the colony’s queen strikes fear into his heart. He supplicates himself before her, knowing that he’s been lazy, has not worked, has scoffed at them, and doesn’t deserve their kindness. The queen hands him his fiddle and admonishes him… to play! At once, he realizes he just landed himself a position as court musician. He strikes up a jolly tune and the dancing commences. Soundtrack swells, fade to black.

I once took a sociology class called “The Disney Empire: Culture and Power”, where I learned that both as an employer and as an entertainment company, Disney tends to blur the lines between work and play. There are many examples in Disney’s films of work and play interchanging, but none so pointed or classic as The Grasshopper and the Ants.

It’s pretty rare in this world to have a job that feels like play. Sometimes, when I watch the young Cast Members, barely adults themselves, playing with the kids along the parade route in the Magic Kingdom to help them pass the time, I’m just a little envious. I know they don’t make much money, I know – I just like the idea of getting paid something, ANYTHING, for playing 😉

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