The baby lubber grasshoppers are here … be happy for the mama birds!

newly emerged lubber grasshopper nymphs

Lubber grasshopper babies emerge in the spring to coincide with all the new songbird babies of spring.  Lubber grasshoppers are a very important food source for our songbirds in the springtime.

Newly emerged grasshopper nymphs don’t last very long once they hatch out of the ground because of the variety of wildlife that consumes them.  If you have some balance in your green space there are lots of hungry mouths waiting for the grasshopper’s emergence … from lizards to mama birds.

If forty nymphs emerge then within a few hours there will only be a few.  Their emergence never goes unnoticed by hungry wildlife for very long.

Grasshopper nymphs have tiny mouth parts and only eat the outer layer, or new growth, of the plants they find themselves near.  If the plants are near and dear to you then I would suggest moving the nymphs to other plants that can be sacrificed.  It’s not going to be a plague of locusts if you leave them be!  It really isn’t.  By the end of spring you’ll be lucky to find more than a few mature lubber grasshoppers … and even they don’t eat a lot.

If you’re lucky enough to have the biodiversity of grasshoppers AND songbirds in your green space embrace it … nurture it … enjoy it.

2 thoughts on “The baby lubber grasshoppers are here … be happy for the mama birds!”

  1. I appreciate your insight on the lubbers. I had no idea — and all the online info I could find was that they have no natural enemies until I read your post. No worry, there are still hundreds of nymphs which seem to be everywhere and especially love to congregate on the liriope lining the driveway. I have been working on converting my yard for about 8 years now and wish I’d found your site sooner! I have learned a lot over the years and in reading of your experiences, I’m happy for the confimation that I’m doing (almost) everything right. Thanks again.

    1. Welcome back Deb,

      They are eaten much more often when they are young because they haven’t built up the level of plant toxins in their bodies yet. When the nymphs initially hatch they haven’t eaten and can’t secrete any plant fluid yet, and are usually in a large group, so predation is much higher. As they mature the levels of plant toxins in their bodies get higher and higher and they become less palatable and desirable as a food source. However, some experienced birds have learned to eat only parts of the grasshopper and don’t get ill. Shrikes will store dead grasshoppers on barbed wire fences until the toxins degrade and then eat them.

      When they are young they can’t fly yet so they are much easier to control by gathering them up and moving them to preferred locations. They go through about five molts, or instars, in their lifetime and only develop full length wings when they transform into adults. Once they have the ability to fly they of course are larger, and harder to keep track of … and eat a lot more.

      Of course if you have few natural predators in your green space there will be more grasshoppers and more damage.

      I’m so glad that you are finding helpful information at my site. I hope you’re having a great spring in your green space!

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