|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
Treehoppers (more precisely typical treehoppers to distinguish them from the Aetalionidae) and thorn bugs are members of the family Membracidae, a group of insects related to the cicadas and the leafhoppers. There are about 3,200 species of treehoppers in over 600 genera. They are found on all continents except Antarctica, although there are only three species in Europe.
They are best known for their enlarged and ornate pronotum, which most often resembles thorns, apparently to aid camouflage. But in some species, the pronotum grows to a horn-like extension, and even more bizarre and hard-to-describe shapes are also found.
Thorn bugs, due to their unusual appearance, have long interested naturalists. This has even extended to popular culture; they are for example among the types of insects mentioned in the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.
They pierce plant stems with their beaks, and feed upon sap. The immatures can frequently be found on herbaceous shrubs and grasses whereas the adults more often frequent hardwood tree species. Excess sap becomes concentrated as honeydew, which often attracts ants. Some species have a well developed ant mutualism, and these species are normally gregarious as well, which attracts more ants. The ants provide protection from predators.
Group of treehopper imagines and nymphs in Monteverde, Costa RicaEggs are laid by the female with her saw-like ovipositor in slits cut into the cambium or live tissue of stems, though some species lay eggs on top of leaves or stems. The eggs may be parasitised by wasps, such as the tiny fairyflies (Mymaridae) and Trichogrammatidae. The females of some membracid species sit over their eggs to protect them from predators and parasites, and may buzz their wings at the intruder. The females of some gregarious species work together to protect each others' eggs. In at least one species, Publilia modesta, mothers serve to attract ants when nymphs are too small to produce much honeydew. Some other species make feeding slits for the nymphs.
Like the adults, the nymphs also feed upon sap, and unlike adults, have an extensible anal tube that appears designed to deposit honeydew away from their body. The tube appears to be longer in solitary species that are rarely ant attended. It is important for sap feeding bugs to dispose of honeydew, as otherwise it can become infected with sooty moulds. Indeed, there is evidence that one of the benefits of ants for individuals of the species Publilia concava is that ants remove the honeydew and reduce such growth.
Most species are innocuous to humans, although a few are considered minor pests, such as Umbonia crassicornis (a thorn bug), the Three-cornered Alfalfa Hopper (Spissistilus festinus), or the Buffalo Treehopper (Stictocephala bisonia) which has been introduced tro Europe.
The bizarre Smerdalea horrescens stands between the Centrotinae and some, but not all, "Stegaspidinae"The diversity of treehoppers has been rather little researched, and their systematic arrangement is tentative. It seems that three main lineages can be distinguished; the Endoiastinae are the most ancient treehoppers, still resembling cicadas a lot. Centrotinae form the second group; they are somewhat more advanced but the pronotum still does not cover the scutellum in almost all of these. The Darninae, Heteronotinae, Membracinae and Smiliinae contain the most apomorphic treehoppers.
Several proposed subfamilies seem to be paraphyletic. Centronodinae and Nicomiinae might need to be merged into the Centrotinae to result in a monophyletic group. And while most the Stegaspidinae also appears to belong there, united by genera like Smerdalea and Smergotomia, members of the "Stegaspidinae" in fact appear to be distributed all across the treehoppers, and the taxon is probably best abolished altogether.
jlinaresp, eng55, anel, cirano, maurydv, boreocypriensis, tcr has marked this note useful
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- [2009-11-26 9:08]
Very nice and interesting close up.Well caught,framed and composed.Sharpness and details are also excellent.
Thanks for posting..
- [2009-11-26 9:36]
interesting insect capture with vivid colors and excellent details
you are showing us again one of those strange insects which only seem to live in your country. I like them very much, so unexpected, so new for me, thanks for introducing us into your insect-world.
Sabine - wishnugaruda
É um insecto muito interessante, eu tenho visto aqui também. Eu sei que eles são muito pequenos, tem feito um excelente trabalho de aproximação. As cores são outro aspecto interessante desta foto. Bom trabalho.
Ciao Francisco, great macro of strange bug, I never see before, splendid light and colors, fine details and excellent sharpness, very well done, ciao Silvio
Very strange insect, very well taken, with fine details and good colors. TFS,
Didáctico y encantador trabajo Francisco. Una toma de bastante dificultad y llena de realismo.
Saludos: J. Ignasi.
- [2009-11-26 13:21]
Very fascinating these South American Treehoppers! They have really strange and most special shapes. Again a very impressive and clear shot of one of these tiny creatures. Why not create a theme "treehoppers", I'm sure that would interest people. I didn't know that there are only three species in Europe.
Thanks also for appreciating my bird picture, it's not my speciality, but I was lucky to see the bird.
I wish you a nice afternoon.
- [2009-11-26 14:16]
Very good macro shot of this very interesting insect with great colors and excellent details.TFS and regards,
a very beautiful and interesting capture of this strange insect taken from an excellent POV, very good details and splendid colours, well composed.
An utterly amazing macro of this weird and well camouflaged treehopper from lateral POV.
The clarity, details, focus and exposure are all impressive!
TFS and have a nice day!
great sharpness composition with nice light and beautiful colours
i like this species
- [2009-11-30 8:13]
Grande aproximação, ótimo enquadramento, exposição e cores naturais.
Até a próxima.
Amazing camouflage indeed; until I opened the thumbnail I had no idea what I was looking at!