Grasshoppers In Florida: Your Complete Guide


Florida in the United States has approximately 70 species of grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acrididae). 

These insects are known to be extremely common in the natural environmental areas of the state as well as in and around parks and gardens.

 Although there is a large variety of species, some are known to be scarce, and others are considered endangered, or exclusive to Florida.

Grasshoppers are found in abundance within the local ecosystem of Florida and therefore are an important resource of food for the wildlife, particularly the bird and reptile population.  

Although it would be hard to describe all 70 species, particularly because many are very similar in identification and habits, some of the most common species you are likely to come across include:

The Eastern Lubber, Wrinkled Grasshopper, American Bird Grasshopper, Obscure Grasshopper, Southern-red Legged, Southern Green Striped, Linear Winged, and Short Winged Grasshopper.

The following is a breakdown of each of these common species, how to distinguish between them, and the lifestyle habits they are most likely to follow.  

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

The scientific name for the Eastern Lubber Grasshopper is: Romalea Microptera (Palisot de Beauvois) (Insecta: Orthoptera: Romaleidae)

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper
The Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

Color

The adult eastern lubbers are usually predominantly yellow or yellowish-brown with black accents.

The Size Of Adult Males And Females

The male adult is roughly two inches long. Female Eastern Lubbers tend to be bigger than the males at approximately three inches.

Lifespan And Life Cycle

The immature grasshoppers creep up out of the soil in groupings and start their hunt for food.

The young Lubbers will molt their exoskeletons five times at approximately 15-day gaps before getting to adulthood. As soon as they start breeding, the cycle begins again.  

Where They Nest And Lay Eggs

The females search for higher ground to lay eggs in moist soil. She normally puts the eggs two inches deep under the soil. She deposits three to five egg masses, this is known as a pod, each pod has approximately 30 to 80 eggs.

The Time Of Year Are They Likely To Be Spotted

July and August are when adults tend to be most active.

The Plants And Produce That They Feed On

The diet of the Eastern Lubber consists of mostly broadleaf plants.

Are They Considered To Be A Pest Problem

They are considered a large and destructive garden pest as they feed on leafy greens. This can range from a personal vegetable garden to a bush of your favorite flowers.

Are They Solitary Or Swarming Grasshoppers

When the grasshopper is younger they have been found to swarm, however, they become more solitary later on in adulthood.

Are They A Danger To Agriculture And Other Farming Practices

The Eastern Lubber Grasshopper can cause major damage to citrus and vegetable crops as well as decorative countryside plants.

The Predators That They Attract

Their only natural predator is the Loggerhead Shrike.  This bird cuts the grasshopper’s head off and then impales their bodies on fences or thorns. This allows the sun to dry out their toxins before the bird eats them.  

Short Winged Green Grasshopper

The scientific name for the Green Slantfaced Grasshopper is: Dichromorpha Viridis (Scudder)

Short Winged Green Grasshopper
The Short Winging Green Grasshopper

Color

Colour varies from completely green to wholly brown. It is common to find these grasshoppers with a mix between the two shades.

The Size Of Adult Males And Females

The male size is between 14 and 22 mm while the female is slightly larger at around 23 to 30 mm.

Lifespan And Life Cycle

They change from Nymph to adult takes about 25-30 days. By the time an egg has matured into an adult, they are about eleven months old. The life span is approximately 12 months when it is complete.

Where They Nest And Lay Eggs

The short-winged nymphs are less mobile, and usually, stay in fields with lots of sunshine so they avoid the shade due to their cold-blooded nature. Their eggs, like many grasshoppers, are laid in the soil.

The Time Of Year Are They Likely To Be Spotted

They are normally spotted in May. Adults are active from June until September, sometimes as late as October.

The Plants And Produce That They Feed On

Their diet consists mostly of various types of grass and small-leafed plants.

Are They Considered To Be A Pest Problem

As their diet consists of mostly grass, these insects are not considered to be a pest.

Are They Solitary Or Swarming Grasshoppers

These are solitary insects, although extreme circumstances such as a shortage of food or environmental hazards such as fire could cause swarming.

Are They A Danger To Agriculture And Other Farming Practices

These grasshoppers are not a threat to agriculture as they do not swarm and feed on grass.

The Predators That They Attract

Birds, lizards, spiders, and rodents are all attracted to areas where short-winged grasshoppers are found.

Linear Winged Grasshopper

The scientific name for the Linear winged Grasshopper is Aptenopedes Sphenariodes (Scudder). Commonly found in lush, weedy areas.

Color

Their color ranges from Green to purplish brown.

The Size Of Adult Males And Females

The male size is smaller than the female at 16-23 mm. The female is usually  22-30mm long.

Lifespan And Life Cycle

The males have a shorter lifespan than females and as a consequence of this, there is a need for conservation efforts for this species of grasshopper.  

Where They Nest And Lay Eggs

The eggs are laid in chambers in the soil. The female can lay approximately 4,700 eggs in her lifespan.

The Time Of Year Are They Likely To Be Spotted

The eggs hatch between May and June and adults can be seen during July and right through February.

The Plants And Produce That They Feed On

They tend to feed on any greens but are mostly found in dry areas.

Are They Considered To Be A Pest Problem

They are considered to be an occasional pest but not a large problem.

Are They Solitary Or Swarming Grasshoppers

They can swarm if conditions become suitable.

Are They A Danger To Agriculture And Other Farming Practices

They are found to occasionally affect the citrus crops.

The Predators That They Attract

They attract spiders, birds, and small mammals. Domestic animals such as dogs and cats can be a danger to this species too as their numbers are already low.  

Southern Green Striped Grasshopper

The scientific name for the Southern Green-striped Grasshopper is: Chortophaga Australior (Rehn & Hebard)

Souther Green Stripped Grasshopper
The Southern Green Stripped Grasshopper

Color

Brown and green

The Size Of Adult Males And Females

The males are smaller at 23 to 30 mm and 28 to 38 mm for females.

Lifespan And Life Cycle

The species has one generation annually which includes the egg stage of the cycle.

Where They Nest And Lay Eggs

There is no exact known number when it comes to the number of eggs they lay per year. They are known to bury eggs in bare sandy topsoil. Females bore into the ground to a depth of one and one-fourth inches.

The Time Of Year Are They Likely To Be Spotted

The Nymphs become busy in March and grow to the adult stage by early April.

The Plants And Produce That They Feed On

They eat mostly grasses and succulent plants in their diet.

Are They Considered To Be A Pest Problem

They can be considered minor pests.

Are They Solitary Or Swarming Grasshoppers

They are less migratory than other species and so are not commonly found swarming.

Are They A Danger To Agriculture And Other Farming Practices

They are known to affect tobacco and clover crops.

The Predators That They Attract

Birds, spiders, small mammals are all potential predators.

Southern Red-legged Grasshopper

The scientific name for the Southern Red-legged Grasshopper is: Melanoplus Propinquus (Scudder)

Color

This grasshopper has a reddish-brown back, a greenish-yellow belly, and red hind tibiae (hence the name red-legged).

The Size Of Adult Males And Females

The males are about 1.7cm to  2.4cm (0.6 – 1 inch) and the females can range from 1.8cm to 3.0cm (0.7 – 1.2 inch) long.

Lifespan And Life Cycle

These grasshoppers have a one-year lifecycle.

Where They Nest And Lay Eggs

The Southern Red-Legged Grasshopper deposits its eggs throughout autumn in the top 2cm of the soil, where the eggs will develop until entering winter diapause. As the soil temperature increases during spring, the eggs will finish development, and first instar nymphs will dig to the surface of the soil.

The Time Of Year Are They Likely To Be Spotted

The egg stage takes about a 7-week period until they hatch. Adults are seen from July until late October

The Plants And Produce That They Feed On

They eat different leaves, and sometimes fruit, flowers, and buds, and tree bark.

Are They Considered To Be A Pest Problem

They are considered to be large pests as they can quickly destroy a garden.

Are They Solitary Or Swarming Grasshoppers

They are often found in swarms when migrating.

Are They A Danger To Agriculture And Other Farming Practices

They are a danger to the agriculture of grains, soybeans, alfalfa, wheat, and barley.

The Predators That They Attract

This species of grasshopper attracts several species of hunting spider predators as well as birds and small mammals.

Obscure Grasshopper

The scientific name for the Obscure  Bird Grasshopper is:  Schistocerca Obscura (Fabricius)

 cerca, Obscura)
The Obscure Grasshopper

Color

The adult Obscure Grasshopper is colored pale tan and sometimes pale green. Normally a yellow stripe down their back can be seen.

The Size Of Adult Males And Females

An adult male size can reach between 36-45 mm in length, while females can become as big as 50-65 mm in length.

Lifespan And Life Cycle

There is approximately one generation per year.

Where They Nest And Lay Eggs

The eggs are buried in soil between depths of five-eighths and seven-eighths of an inch.

The Time Of Year Are They Likely To Be Spotted

Adults are seen around September.

The Plants And Produce That They Feed On

These grasshoppers seem to prefer plants in the citrus family, such as wafer ash and lime trees. However, they will feed on various kinds of broad-leafed plants.

Are They Considered To Be A Pest Problem

They scarcely ever gather in swarms and are not considered a pest.

Are They Solitary Or Swarming Grasshoppers

It is very rare to find this species of grasshopper in groups.

Are They A Danger To Agriculture And Other Farming Practices

Because they are solitary insects, they do not pose a major threat to agriculture.

The Predators That They Attract

This species falls prey and attracts numerous species of birds.

American Bird Grasshopper

The scientific name for the American Bird Grasshopper is: Schistocerca Americana (Drury)

American Bird Grasshopper
The American Bird Grasshopper

Color

Nymphs are usually green, but when they gather together, their color changes to orange.

The Size Of Adult Males And Females

The size of the male grasshopper is 39 to 45mm, while the female is 42 to 55mm long.

Lifespan And Life Cycle

This species normally has two generations per year.

Where They Nest And Lay Eggs

The female American Bird Grasshopper puts her eggs in the soil and digs them into the ground about 2 to 3cm (0.7 – 1.2 inches).

The Time Of Year Are They Likely To Be Spotted

They are present throughout the year in Florida.

The Plants And Produce That They Feed On

They feed on a wide assortment of herbaceous and woody plants.

Are They Considered To Be A Pest Problem

The American Bird Grasshopper is considered to be one of the most damaging species in Florida.

Are They Solitary Or Swarming Grasshoppers

They are known to be found in groups which can become a problem.

Are They A Danger To Agriculture And Other Farming Practices

The American Bird Grasshopper is measured as a danger to agriculture as they harm field crops, vegetables, ornamentals, and trees.

They normally sit in the trees and fly to the ground to feed, after which they return back to the trees.  Citrus crops have been badly damaged; however, it is not a crop they prefer.

The Predators That They Attract

The eggs are eaten by ground beetles and the adults can be eaten by other insects for example ants, robber flies, wasps, spiders, and many different species of birds and small mammals.

Wrinkled Grasshopper

The scientific name for the Wrinkled Grasshopper is Hippiscus Ocelete (Scudder).  

Wrinkled Grasshopper
The Wrinkled Grasshopper

Color

The hind wings are yellow or rose-colored basally, with a broad dark band.

The Size Of Adult Males And Females

The males are about 28 to 40mm long, whilst the females are significantly bigger at 39-53mm in length.

Lifespan and lifecycle

The lifespan of an adult Wrinkled Grasshopper can be up to one year.  

Where They Nest And Lay Eggs

This species also lays its eggs in topsoil.

The Time Of Year Are They Likely To Be Spotted

The adults are seen from June until November which is right into winter in the southern part of the areas they are found. Adults are most common from September into November. This is usually one of the last grasshopper species seen just before Winter sets in.

The Plants And Produce That They Feed On

They eat primarily on short grass which is particularly bluegrass or Japanese brome. They are also known to eat little bluestems as well as blue grama. The Wrinkled Grasshopper can resort to scavenging dead animal material as well, and can sometimes be cannibalistic under certain situations.

Are They Considered To Be A Pest Problem

They seldom swarm so they are not considered harmful.

Are They Solitary Or Swarming Grasshoppers

They seldom form in groups due to low density and their feeding preferences.

Are They A Danger To Agriculture And Other Farming Practices

They do not pose a threat to the agricultural sector and are not considered harmful to crops.

The Predators That They Attract

Birds are the main predator of this species and various different kinds of small mammals.

The Wrap Up

There is an abundance of grasshoppers in and around Florida. Some of which can devastate a vegetated area, while others will encourage the biodiversity of birds, reptiles, and other pollinators.

Knowing how to differentiate between the species is important. Knowing what can help and what will destroy can make all the difference to your garden.

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