Strolling through my spring garden, enjoying the beautiful azaleas and Virginia spider wort. I panicked a bit when I realized covering my pink pineapple Bromeliads (Ananas comosus) were hundreds of eastern lubber grasshopper nymphs (Romalea microptera). It was shocking to see so many of them! In the past two springs here I didn’t see any in the garden.
I’ve been in Ormond Beach for the past three years. I was a snow bird coming down right after New Year’s Day and heading North late April. Now I’m a committed, a full time Floridian, and newbie Master Gardener, I have to be more vigilant in my pest observations.
This rascal can be extremely destructive, munching on everything from citrus leaves to tender ornamentals. Employ the Florida Friendly Landscape principles, #6 (Manage Yard Pests Responsibly). Controlling nymphs now will save trouble later. The adults are difficult to kill. They have a tough exoskeleton and stomping on them is messy. Use pesticides as a last resort. Remember pesticides can be harmful to beneficial insects as well as pests.
Living in an HOA, it’s been few week in my complex since the lawn was mowed. The grass, although a bit dry because of the lack of rain this March, was slightly tall. I understand to control lubber nymphs, the lawn should be mowed regularly, as they like to live in tall grass. Make a solution of 25% dish detergent and 75% water in a bucket, then hand pick lubbers to drown. This was difficult as they hop pretty quickly. I ended up squishing those I could. As a last resort, pesticides labeled for use in lawns and gardens were applied directly to the insects. Always wear PPE’s (personal wear protective equipment) when spraying pesticide products and always read the label for proper usage, clean up and disposal. Pesticides such as pyrethrums or neem oil are not very effective on lubbers. If you don’t want to battle the large, clunky adult this summer then acting now is key to enjoying a healthy and beautiful garden all season.
This article was contributed by Bob Vitale, a Master Gardener Trainee in Volusia County