More Bizarre Treehoppers

October 27th, 2010 - 5:43 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

January 28, 2010

Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

These treehoppers are probably two species in the genus Cyphonia.

The first one you may recognize from this book cover.

500 Insects:
A Visual Reference

by Stephen A. Marshall

Ants Herding Treehoppers

October 18th, 2010 - 10:16 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

January 28, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

These ants have quite effectively corralled their herd of honeydew producing treehoppers.

There’s a lot to see here if you look carefully. First, it looks like quite a few of the life stages of the treehoppers are present. There’s the dark adult in the center, an early instar in the bottom center, and the majority appear to be middle instars.

In the detail below, you can see the ant on the right has just taken a drop of honeydew and the dark adult has a drop waiting.

Detail

More Bell-bearer Treehoppers

October 7th, 2010 - 4:48 PM | Filed under Featured Creatures | 6 Comments

January 28, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Another photo, same individual

One more shot, same individual

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.

January 28, 2010

And here’s a few shots of one I found a few days earlier.

January 26, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Rear view

Treehopper

October 2nd, 2010 - 8:47 AM | Filed under Featured Photos | 2 Comments

January 27, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I actually saw quite a few of these in various places throughout the park. I’m sure that headdress serves some useful function. I’m just not quite sure what.

In this excellent little book there’s a very similar looking treehopper identified as a Bocydium. I assume the one shown above belongs to that same genus.

500 Insects:
A Visual Reference

by Stephen A. Marshall

Treehopper with Eggs

August 28th, 2010 - 10:00 AM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

January 26, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This treehopper appears to have deposited eggs in this twig.  I’m not sure if she’s still ovipositing or perhaps just guarding the eggs.