I’ve been researching these neat little treehoppers some more and I found references to a couple of Brazilian species, Bocydium globulare and tintinnabuliferum. I had to mention these just because of the scientific names.
Do you know the Edgar Allen Poe poem, “The Bells”? Remember these lines?
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
That came to mind as soon as I saw that scientific name, tintinnabuliferum. Besides just sounding cool, it translates as “bell-bearer”. The other name, globulare, I can’t quite work out, but I think in part it means “little balls”.
Also, I still haven’t seen a convincing purpose for the headdress other than what Marshall mentions in the book I referenced in the previous post. He suggests that in some cases they give the appearance of an ant (something usually undesirable to predators).
Elsewhere on the web I saw it mentioned that the headdress breaks off easily. A predator might then end up with just this nonessential body part.
Staring at these though, I just don’t see an ant and I didn’t see any specimens missing their decorations. One thing that comes to my mind is that it looks like an insect that has succumbed to a fungal infection. Compare, for example, this image.
Here’s the only photo I have of a different individual.
And here’s a few shots of one I found a few days earlier.