Summertime, and the lubbers are crawling

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Summertime, and the lubbers are crawling.

The thumb-sized, shiny black insects - also called devil's horses - are grasshoppers that can hardly hop.

Hatched in the spring, eastern lubber grasshoppers are now adult and easily visible around the South. Many are brightly colored, but at least from Louisiana east to Mobile, Ala., they're black with a bright stripe. They don't leap or fly.

The bugs don't have to flee predators. They're toxic, sickening birds and mammals that eat them.

They have the grasshopper "tobacco spit" habit, regurgitating a dark brown liquid that can stain clothing. Tim Schowalter, head of the entomology department at the LSU AgCenter, says they also hiss and secrete foam around their hind legs.

Still, says Showalter, they're harmless to humans.

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