Friday, August 22, 2008

Devil Horse In The Louisiana Wetlands

Ed does almost everything I want to do. He's a great boyfriend that way. I like going to bookstores, and he goes. I like going to movies, he goes. I like visiting my family and friends, he goes.

For the last couple of days, he's been wanting me to do something he wants to do. My first reaction is to say no. My second reaction, after I've given it some thought, is also to say no. But since we've been here for over two weeks now, today I agreed to go for a "nature walk" with him at the Northlake Nature Center in Mandeville, Louisiana.

BIG mistake. It was probably the second worst day of my life, this was the first and reminded me of why I usually don't agree to do the things Ed likes to do.

In his defense, he did try to dissuade me. He told me I wouldn't enjoy it and that he actually didn't really want me to go. He said I was going to bitch and complain and he wasn't going to be able to enjoy his walk with me doing that. I was all, "No, no, no. C'mon, you do all the things I like to do. The least I can do is something you want to do."

WTF was I thinking??
Not very much apparently, because five hundred feet into the first trail, we saw this:
Holy Mother Nature!! This thing was almost three inches long and as thick as an adult man's thumb! Based on what I found online, we believe this to be a Southeast Lubber Grasshopper (also known as the Devil Horse). Here is some information I came across:

Scientific name: Romalea microptera
Details: If insects could do steroids, this would be the result, according to some people; a 3-inch, yellow monstrosity with red and black racing stripes. Surprisingly, they can't fly, since their wings are so short.

But they can leap a few feet, which is what you might see them doing this time of year in Florida. They reach maturity between June and November, often on the sides of roads, in pinelands, and in semi-dry marshes or disturbed areas where they can survive. But their favorite habitats are beds of lilies or amaryllis, and they'll also invade orange groves or other citrus.

When threatened or disturbed, the lubber can hiss impressively and secrete a putrid-smelling liquid that offends most interested parties, including humans. (Some sources say the stuff can kill some birds, and cause opossums to vomit, which is impressive, considering what opossums are capable of consuming without so much as a belch.) Lubbers also have sharp spines on their bows or hind ends, to the dismay of those who may seize them.

t did not hop on me, it didn't hiss and thank God, it did not secrete anything. And by NO means did I ever consider "seizing" it.

That cricket, a few turtles, and another HUGE black, scary cricket were the only critters I saw on the walk. It was actually more like a death march. It was a million degrees, with 400% humidity, the trails were overgrown and the signage for them was non-existent. The signs they did have were washed out or faded from the sun.

It was not at all an enjoyable day. But I'm glad I went and I'm glad I did something Ed wanted to do because just like that day at the amusement park, I can now check it off my list FOREVER.

A pretty shitty process of elimination, but an elimination nonetheless.


Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Excuse me while I run, screaming, from the computer screen. Gaaaaaaaaaah!

Saretta said...

It's pretty! In a gross, buggy kind of way, that is! -)

~**Dawn**~ said...

Ack. I swear the further South you come, the more prehistoric the critters get!

mlktrout said...

Did you say Florida? I live in Jacksonville. Pardon me while I pack up and move!