J. L. Capinera
Department of Entomology and Nematology
Lubber grasshoppers are unusually abundant in the Polk County, Florida, area this year. This native grasshopper is a regular pest in some areas - though it is not usually so abundant as this year. So if a large flightless (It has wings but is too heavy to fly!) grasshopper is plaguing your yard or farm this year, it is likely a lubber. The immature grasshoppers are mostly black, with a thin yellow or red line down their back. The adult is more variable, ranging from mostly yellow to mostly black, sometime with pink or rose color on their wings.
Lubber numbers cycle up and down with some regularity. Their abundance this year is either food or weather related, maybe both. They typically inhabit wet areas - which this year dried out, perhaps encouraging them to forage further afield - or maybe the drought allowed some unusual weed to flourish that increased survival. They eat many different plants. The outbreaks tend to be localized and not long-lived (although Polk County has a history of above-average abundance of these insects). It is not likely that they will abundant for more than one additional year in that area.
These grasshoppers are difficult to kill when they mature. It is best to target them when they are young. Most of the insecticides are ineffective on adults, but pyrethroids such as Talstar (bifenthrin) are among the more effective products should you feel it necessary to kill them.
For more information see: http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/creatures/orn/lubber.htm.