Friday, August 31, 2012

YUCK! Do you believe the size of this!?

This is a grasshopper!!  Can you believe it?

 Romalea guttata, known commonly as the eastern lubber grasshopper or just lubber grasshopper, is a grasshopper,  native to the southeastern and south central portion of the United States. It is the most distinctive grasshopper species within the southeastern United States, and is well known both for its size and its unique coloration.  It can reach nearly 3 inches (8 cm) in size. It was previously known as Romalea microptera.

The first time I saw one was in the tree (above) and even though it looked like a grasshopper, it couldn't be one... it was yellow and BIG!  This thing was every bit of 3 inches or more!


Then... there was this guy!  I was just totally amazed!  While I was taking his picture, he was following me with his eyes...big eyes... and moving around the bamboo.  If I went to one side, his eyes followed me and when I got to a certain point, he did this little shuffle to the other side.

The following information and more, can be found here.

The eastern lubber grasshopper is limited to the southeastern and south central portion of the United States. The northern boundary is central North Carolina west through southern Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, to Texas. It occurs throughout Florida.

Distribution of Romalea microptera, the eastern lubber grasshopper.


The lubber is surely the most distinctive grasshopper species in the southeastern United States. It is well known both for its size and its unique coloration. The wings offer little help with mobility for they are rarely more than half the length of the abdomen. This species is incapable of flight and can jump only short distances. Mostly the lubber is quite clumsy and slow in movement and travels by walking and crawling feebly over the substrate. Nymphs. The immature eastern lubber grasshopper differs dramatically in appearance from the adults. Nymphs (immature grasshoppers) typically are completely black with one or more distinctive yellow, orange or red stripes. The front legs and sides of the head are often red. Sometimes the nymph is brownish rer, but also displays the colorful stripes.
young nymph
older nymph
Adults. Adult males and females are usually 6.0 and 8.0 cm. long, respectively. The body is quite robust while the legs remain relatively slender. The general color of adults is dull yellow with varying degrees of black spots and markings. The front pair of wings (tegmina) are yellow with numerous scattered black dots, while the hind wings when exposed reveal a bright red/rose coloration with a black border.
adult, light color phase
The color of adult lubbers also varies throughout most of the insect’s range. One phase is nearly entirely black with a few marks of yellowish tawny. The adults of this phase seem to resemble the nymph. However, the different phases are indeed the same species.
adult, intermediate color phase
adult, dark color phase

Life Cycle

Adult Romalea microptera exist nearly throughout the year in Florida with their numbers dwindling during the fall and winter period. They have one generation per year, with eggs beginning to hatch in February in South Florida while the rest of the state usually doesn't see this species until March. Eastern lubbers, like all grasshoppers, grow through successive stages after molting. These stages (instars) are referred to as nymphs. Lubbers have a total of five instars before molting into the adult stage. The length of these instars vary slightly but average 15 to 20 days each. The highest number of adults can be observed during the months of July and August. Females will begin laying eggs during the summer months. After mating, females use the tip of the abdomen to dig a small hole into a suitable patch of soil. Usually at a depth of about two inches, she will deposit up to 50 eggs contained within a light foamy froth. Each female will lay from one to three egg masses. These eggs will remain in the soil through late fall and winter and then begin hatching in March. The young grasshoppers crawl up out of the soil upon hatching and seem to congregate near suitable food sources. Lubbers are often found in damp or wet habitats, but seek drier sites for egg-laying.
Populations cycle up and down, possibly due to the action of parasites. The tachinid fly Anisia serotina (Reinhard) attains high levels of parasitism, sometimes 60-90%.


Eastern lubber grasshoppers seem to prefer open pine-woods, weedy fields and the weedy vegetation along roadsides. Occasionally, on rural highways in the central portion of the state, enough flattened lubber grasshoppers will accumulate on the road to cause a minor slick! The accumulation of weedy plant species along drainage ditches within citrus groves and vegetable fields will sometimes attract lubbers, which in turn end up feeding on the cultivated crops as well. Lubbers may often invade residential areas and feast on certain ornamental plants, especially amaryllis and related flowers.

Defensive Characteristics

Eastern lubber grasshoppers possess a variety of abilities to defend themselves. Their bright color pattern is a warning to predators that the lubber contains toxic substances. Indeed, there are several records attributing the demise of individual birds to failure to exercise caution when selecting prey items. Also small mammals such as opossums have been known to vomit violently after ingesting a lubber, and to remain ill for several hours. However, shrikes are reported to catch and kill lubbers. If the red, yellow, and black coloration fails to keep a predator at bay, then the lubber may secrete a foamy spray from the thoracic region (the portion of the body where the legs and wings are attached.) This spray consists of a number of compounds, some of which, are irritants. This bubbly froth is accompanied by a relatively loud, frightful hissing sound. The insect contracts the abdomen to force air out of the spiracles along with the defensive secretion. The sound is produced as the spray is being forced out of these tiny holes in the thorax called spiracles. Eastern lubbers, like most all grasshoppers, can also regurgitate recently consumed plant material. This regurgitant is mostly liquid and has a dark brown color. This is commonly referred to as "tobacco spit." The tobacco spit is partially digested food material along with some semi-toxic compounds from the insect's crop region. This substance can easily stain clothing.

Management of Lubbers

The size of the eastern lubber grasshopper is a little misleading when one considers they require far less food material than most of the more injurious species of grasshoppers that are only one-third as large or smaller. Grasshopper abundance can be regulated through management of the vegetation. If you deprive grasshoppers of their favored food, often they will leave or perish. Keeping the vegetation mowed is very helpful, as short vegetation does not often support grasshoppers
Lubber grasshoppers will often develop initially in moist areas around ponds and irrigation ditches, then later migrate to homes, yards, and crops. Rather than waiting for the grasshoppers to come to you, it is often best to take the battle to them. So check potential breeding or feeding sites for signs of grasshoppers. The young grasshoppers remain clustered in groups, but as they get older they are more likely to be solitary. If you cannot control them through mowing, try hand-picking. You can throw them into a bucket of soapy water or a trash bag to kill them.
cluster of young nymphs
If there are too many to control by hand-picking, insecticides can be applied. Lubber grasshoppers are not easy to kill, even with insecticides, once they become large. Among the insecticides that will kill lubber grasshoppers are carbaryl, bifenthrin, cyhalothrin, permethrin, and esfenvalerate (note: these are the technical names, which appear in the 'ingredients' section on the label). You likely will have to apply the insecticide directly to the insects; the small amount of insecticide residue remaining on sprayed plants may not be adequate to kill the grasshoppers.
If insecticides are to be used, be sure to apply them according to the directions on the label of the container. Especially if insecticides are applied to food crops or near water, it is important to heed the directions. Most of the insecticides listed above are toxic to fish.
I was told that in Florida, besides a big problem, they grow more than 4 inches, and the only way to kill an adult is to step on it!  YUCK!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Without apologies...

For the days, September 1 through September 11, 2012, I will be dedicating a blog post each day to Commemorate 9/11.  I make no apology for being off track but 9/11 is part of my journey.  If there is something else to share, I will share it separately also.

You still have time to do something to Commemorate 9/11 in Your Hometown.  If you follow this link  you will be taken to the 9/11 Memorial site, where you can get all the information about the Memorial and what you can do.

Please watch this video...Commemorate 9/11

 As part of an on-line community, and as part of the 2012 Commemorate Planning Guide, Journey's End will follow these guidelines for Facebook: 
• Create an event listing for your 9/11 commemoration event.
• Use the 9/11 Memorial’s app to dedicate your status to a 9/11 victim
or update your profile picture with a tribute photo:
• Download the Facebook Cover Photo in the toolkit and make it your own
cover photo.
• Sample statuses:
In commemoration of 9/11, join me in showing support for the National
September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center

I hope you too will: HONOR. REMEMBER. REUNITE.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hurricane Season...

Although Hurricane season starts in June 1st through November 30th, this is the unofficial start of the height of the season.  We are about at the same time of when Katrina went through in 2005. 

With getting ready, I was late going to the mailbox but when I did, my copy of Coastal Living Magazine was there.  I was tired so just flipped one page after the other.  I really enjoyed the issue, and each picture was great...there are articles I want to read but for the meantime, Isaac has my attention.  Which brought me to this:

On page16, they have a list: Be prepared for hurricane season.

  1. Keep essentials  all together so easily accessible.
  2. Stock up on a few cases of bottled water.
  3. Double check your insurance coverage.
  4. Keep the Emergency Radio nearby and batteries charged.
  5. Secure all outdoor furnishings.
  6. Unplug all small appliances and gas tanks.
  7. Turn refrigerator and freezer dials to the coldest setting.
  8. Store important documents and family pictures in water proof containers.
  9. Be sure family members are aware of evacuation routes.
  10. If you are evacuating with a pet, visit

The past several years have been a mild so we tend to get complacent and do nothing to prepare.  I have been guilty, more so this year, until... it became a reality again.

As of this writing it looks like I may be luckier than thought just yesterday but the thing with storms of any kind but especially of this size, you never know until it's over.  I will be on the back side of it and that still brings rain and wind.  Where there is rain and wind, there is a possibility of tornadoes.  The problem with tornadoes is they just pop out of seemly no where.  We had a tornado come through here last year and destroyed homes in its path.  There is nothing you can do to prepare for it.

So to everyone in the path...and in the cone, be prepared and be safe.

This morning facing east

facing north east

 As I am getting ready and cleaning up and putting batteries in everything, it has come to my attention that my hot water heater is not working!  It is always something!

Stay safe.

RIP Neil Armstrong

Photo: The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden regarding the death of former test pilot and NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong. He was 82.

"On behalf of the entire NASA family, I would like to express my deepest condolences to Carol and the rest of Armstrong family on the passing of Neil Armstrong. As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them, remembered for taking humankind's first small step on a world beyond our own. 

"Besides being one of America's greatest explorers, Neil carried himself with a grace and humility that was an example to us all. When President Kennedy challenged the nation to send a human to the moon, Neil Armstrong accepted without reservation. 

"As we enter this next era of space exploration, we do so standing on the shoulders of Neil Armstrong. We mourn the passing of a friend, fellow astronaut and true American hero."

I don't know about you, but I remember watching that 'small step for man' moment.  It wasn't black and white, it was fuzzy shades of gray.  I wonder... is that where the Man on the Moon came from?  Maybe for me. 

It was after President Kennedy had said we would do it and we did!  Neil Armstrong was the first man to take that step...for all of us!  At my age, maybe even older people, it was so inconceivable!  A diffinite WOW moment!

Imagine the journey... the unknown.  We all take a journey but to those heights?!   I don't live on the Space Coast by accident.

Beautiful message from the family of Neil Armstrong: "For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."

Good Night Mr. Armstrong!  Safe journey and God's speed.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Another change in plans!

Isaac is on his way!

I basically have less than 4 days to prepare, and prepare I will.  I have been very lucky since I moved to Florida this time.  I was in Vero Beach for T.S. Fay, which proved days of rain can be pretty impressive too...but so far, no hurricane threats till now.  Every season, and any mention of a hurricane, I have prepared and found myself lucky that nothing came to be.  So I will prepare again, hope for the best, but it doesn't look that good this time!  This far out, anything could change but I don't work fast, so I'm starting ahead of time.

I am hopeful that I will be fine but it's that nagging "unknown" feeling that can make an anxiety filled day.  As of now, unless I am told to leave, I plan on riding it out.  There isn't an evacuation site that takes dogs close by.  I checked  the county emergency management page for a refresher in preparation.

Earlier today when I was out with the dog, I started straightening up the shed and putting things in there... still allot more to put in there. Truthfully, a hurricane could take the shed and everything else to Oz but I can do what I can do and hope for the best.

For most of yesterday, I was cleaning up.  Cleared up my crafting supplies from the kitchen and pretty much done in there...went through refrigerator and cabinets to double check what to pick up as non-perishables and what to cook before hand. Making a multi-list: to check, to pack, to buy, and to get gas and go to bank.  Got laundry ready to do...

We are in the cone right now and we're not supposed to panic.  Things, of course, can change as it moves, but then: it doesn't look good for Central Florida either way.  If Isaac continues to track along the west coast of Florida, we are on the back side of the storm that has that wallop of rain and wind.

So the anxiety continues but I am trying to keep focused on what I can do now and for the next 4-5 days. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Doing laundry now.  Load of clothes in the dryer and blanket and quilt in the washer.  List growing but all little things.  My sister and brother-in-law sent me a gift for 2 Christmas' that came in a Styrofoam container that I am happy I saved, to use for refrigerator things, just in case.  Of course, there will be plenty of last minute things to do, like bring in my plants but I am trying to do what I can, as much as I can, just in case.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Beach Front

Although there are other things to do, my front is not where I want it yet.  I love how beachy, clean and neat it is looking.  But there is accessorizing that I want to do.  I started off with spraying the sandcastle with the sand textured spray paint to get rid of that gray look.

and the coral:



This is next.

It's the little Adirondack  (green) chair from the front.  In my head, I'm working on a sorta sunset on the water, palm trees and birds, lettering, and sandy legs. 

I kinda just went with it, with spray paints.  This is my first time around with it so it was learn as you go.  My inspiration came from  Paintin Place's style and videos.  I am so inspired by her work and love watching her.

Truthfully, I didn't think this out enough.   I wanted a sunset on the back, water on the seat but that's where I got lost.  I get lost on this journey often, it seems.

 What I would do differently is:

decide on my primary over-all color which could have been the coral color... or blue.  That would have been the legs, arms, underneath and the back side.  I would have sprayed the middle of the seat yellow and I would have sprayed a good section of the back yellow and
then using a paper plate, cover the "sun" and spray a half circle coral at the top and blue at the bottom, and blue up top.

Using acrylic paints, I started at the bottom, with a double loaded brush with black and brown mixed with I got closer to the sun, I switched to double loaded brown and bronze.. It does make it difficult when you hit the opening of the slats!   Stepping back and looking helps... I also find taking a picture. downloading it and looking at it in full screen helps me.  That's why, if you follow by Facebook page, you saw most every step of the way.

Between the two pictures above, you can see I worked a bit on the palm trunk, worked on the palm fronds, and added a dune fence.  When I was happy with it, I gave the back, bottom of tree and fence a light blast of sand paint....and decided to spray the front of the legs all the way up with the sand paint.

I couldn't leave well enough alone so I also sprayed the bottom slat that goes across from one leg to another.

This was a little disappointing!  BEACHAHOLIC is read-able.... and SEASHORE ....
but it should read:
and as you can see, it isn't that easy to read.  I am going to go over it with acrylic paint.

BUT, all and all, day one, first try, I am very happy with my chair.  I can't wait for it to be DONE and sealed and outside in front on my "beach"!!

painted adirondack chair

I'm done!!
I am very happy with how everything turned out and how it came together.  There are things I want to move around, weeds to pull and sweeping to do BUT the storm got here before I could finish that.  I am just hoping the seal on the chair holds up.
Drum Roll Please!!

landscapng with shells

landscaping with shells

Just some moving around and clean up and it's on to the next section!  I am really happy with my new "beach front" property.

Kick up your flip-flops!

FYI:  In this picture, at the top are shells I have regularly collected at the beach.  The smaller ones are the coquina shells that I did the entire front with from ACE Hardware in Titusville.  I just wanted to clear up any confusion as it is not sand and not a giant litter box.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What I'm working on this week...

landscaping with shells

If you are following my journey on Facebook, you have already seen my work on the kid's size Adirondack chair I've been painting.  I am also working on some other details for the front "beach".

painting adirondack chair
 My Before and Almost Done picture (above)...not bad for my first time!!  I am very pleased with it.  I need to paint another coat over the letters on the seat and then seal it. I have an adult size, white one, that I will do when I get everything else done.

I'm also working on gluing shells to a sand pail and shovel.  I also used moss to represent seaweed.  I had to fix the pelican's beak and I'm adding fish and shells to his mouth.  And my Heron needs some love too...he wound up in pieces.  

I spray painted my sandcastle with the sand textured paint so it didn't look so gray and re-sprayed my coral,  a coral color. 

I'm excited with each step and how it's coming together.  I can't wait for it all to be done, it is going to look so good!

Yesterday, while I was working on the chair, my delivery came from Ocean Styles!  Rather than show you what I got now, I'll show you when I get everything is in place as most of it is for outside.  I will tell you this, everything is so much nicer in person than in a picture!

It takes me a little longer working around the Florida summer rainy season BUT I can't wait to be able to sit outside, put my feet up, glass in hand and enjoy my little oasis as we go into "our" fall and winter seasons. 

Stay tuned.... and enjoy the journey!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A day with a change of plans...

Lanscaping with shells

I have wanted to do this forever!  and I love the way it looks!  

It's hard to live in Florida and not love the beach. But I have always loved the ocean.  I have always loved the water: the river, the bay, the sound, the gulf BUT there is nothing like the Ocean.  

Whenever I stand on the edge of "my" world and gaze out as far as I can see, I can feel so small on God's earth but so at peace.  On a nice day it is truly peaceful and calming, feeling the current tug.  Tug at your feet, tug at your soul, rejuvenating your mind, body and soul.  But on a day with a storm on the waters, the fury and anger that churns rising and falling is a magical message that "this too shall pass".  My life, just as the ocean, has ups and downs.  It has good days and not so good days.  It goes back and forth, and sometimes it's in a spin...but always, after the storm comes a peaceful day and a sign of the better days ahead.  The Ocean is a friend of mine and helps me find myself, ground myself, be myself, refresh and remind myself that everything is a circle...

Chill Out to the sights and music of The Ocean

 I have always lived a short distance from the beach here in Florida as well as on Long Island, New York.  As I have shared with you numerous times, the beach is very much the soul of me as well as my decor.  It has been running through my veins for my whole life.  So far most of my decorating has been inside...I finally got to the front.
Gramma and I at Jones Beach, NY.

I can't thank ACE Hardware in Titusville, FL enough!  I asked, they listened!!  I can only handle a few bags at a time so they made it so much easier for me.  It works out for me physically and financially.

I have more plans for more coquina shells too, but this is it for this month.  In the meantime, there are little things to add and tweak around the front and another bed to get ready for shells. 


While my Heron was drying in the kitchen for a second time around,  more to be on the safe side, I gave his eyes a little make-up.

Then I packed some things up in my basket and went outside, planning on some outside crafting for a change.

I went out front and grabbed my sandcastle and gave it a quick coat of the sand paint...
remember this?

It may need a little bit more.
My faux coral really needed some love!  I was going to spray it red but it was originally a coral color so I stuck to that, and I had coral spray paint.

 It did have a shiny black base that I hit too with the sand textured paint.  I may hit it again and may or may not glue shells to the top around the coral.

I went inside for something, I'm not even sure what anymore, and it started to thunder!  I am not a happy camper at this point.  I decide to take the dog out before it gets closer and gave the other side of the coral a good spray of paint.

Heidi barking at the thunder!
Then she mumbles like it hears her; maybe it does.

So, since I couldn't do much outside, I thought I would share some of the things I picked up and wanted to work on BUT DIDN'T!

While at ACE Hardware, I picked up 4 coleus plants and 2 others that I haven't figured out yet.  They were only 50 cents a piece and the red coleus grabbed my attention for color.   I have some empty pots to plant these in to add color around the patio.

I thought this was cute and may be a good idea.  It was $4.99 at ACE.  It is a solar light and I am thinking of hanging it from the patio over-hang.  I'm going to see how this goes, because I might want to hang a couple in the side bed.

And this:

I have been eye-balling this for months at ACE and finally said "to heck with it" and bought it.  It's a table top fire pit, that says: LIVE LOVE LAUGH.  They were out of fire pit gel so I am going to use this Sterno a very little at a time for the ambiance!  There is nothing like a glass of wine and a little fire to chill out and enjoy the work I've been doing!

 I picked up a pail and these sandcastle molds were at Dollar Tree for the front.  I think if I use caulking, I can some how work them together with shells...maybe near my "sandcastle".

Need to figure out what to hang out front too.

Let's see how the week-end weather goes.... maybe I will get something done....Meanwhile, enjoy your journey!