On a hot fall prairie, I crossed trails with a lubber grasshopper. That’s not too hard to do, although I see only a few each year in prairie country. The lubber isn’t necessarily the largest grasshopper in the state – American grasshoppers get much longer – but the lubber is certainly the bulkiest. It’s a chunker.
The lubber, unlike most grasshoppers, can’t fly. That’s because it has vestigial wings, small wing buds that never develop into the real thing. The lubber is mostly slow and clumsy. It can’t jump well, though it can hop about 18 inches. It prefers to walk everywhere it goes, and it’s not even good at that. Most of its hops land it on its back, though it quickly rights itself and readies for more ungraceful, evasive action.
This grasshopper spends most of its time on food plants, hanging out under leaves where birds won’t see it. Sunflowers are its favorite plant, but it will eat all kinds of green vegetation. The lubber has relatives in the southeastern U.S. that are quite colorful and toxic to predators, but the prairie lubber is fair game for all kinds of birds and small mammals.
Eat that thing, and they won’t need another meal for awhile.