Lubber Defense Decay

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

The Lubber Grasshoppers, Romalea guttata, is a large colorful grasshopper found in Florida. Romalea is toxic to birds and other vertebrates. Phenolic toxins produced by Romalea induce vomiting or even death in most predators. One bird has found a way to avoid the grasshopper defense, the Loggerhead Shrike, Lanius ludovicianus.*

Shrikes will hunt and kill more prey than they can eat in the short term, stashing the prey for later consumption. This habit of killing prey to consume later makes Shrikes adapted to feeding on lubbers. After the lubbers die, the defensive phenolic toxins begin to degrade to non-toxic metabolites. Shrikes will stab and stash multiple lubber grasshoppers. The shrikes never consume the freshly killed lubbers, only those that are properly aged. Two days after Lubbers are killed, shrikes can be safely consume them.

*REUVEN YOSEF & DOUGLAS WITMAN. 1992. Predator exaptations and defensive adaptations in evolutionary balance: No defence is perfect. Evolutionary Ecology, 1992, 6, 527-536.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Lubber Defense Decay

  1. Pingback: Lubber Defense Decay | Living With Insects Blog

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