11/11/2021: The grotesque physics of horse lubber oviposition
Last weekend I spent some time hanging out with Michigan bug folks Brandon Thomas and Junkai Wang, and Kai was nice enough to bring me an adult female Taeniopoda eques he had recently acquired.
My experience with horse lubbers has been grueling but positive, as they can be difficult to acquire, need a lot of heat and food, and the eggs take a very long time to hatch. The last time I successfully bred them was circa 2015, and captive hatched individuals were way more vigorous than wild caughts.
Kai brought the female in a bare deli cup (I had enclosures ready on hand), but we took some time to explore my bugs and left her on the kitchen table. Eventually we noticed her abdomen probing the bottom of the cup, so I grabbed some grasshopper laying soil and put her on it with another deli cup over top.
I have watched many grasshopper species oviposit, but this was a new experience for me. She decided to lay right against the side, and the three of us had a front row seat to the beautiful horror at hand. I had no idea a grasshopper’s abdominal segments could stretch that far (at least in living specimens), but it does make sense for an arid organism to adapt to lay eggs as deep into substrate as possible to prevent desiccation (supposedly a non-issue for horse lubbers), parasitization, or direct predation.
It would be nice to get a good hatch out of the egg mass, which is quite impressive considering the female’s size. I guess we’ll see what happens in 8 months if/when it decides to hatch.