Mating Treehoppers

October 1st, 2012 - 9:11 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 4 Comments

~4mm body | September 29, 2012 | Roswell, Ga, USA

These mating treehoppers (Acutalis brunnea) picked a good place to get together, at least from a photographer’s perspective. I like the composition of this full frame image, but there’s so many different ways I could crop it.

Here’s a closer look at the pair.

Cropped view

I’ve stared at the full size image, but I can’t decide which one is male and which one is female.

 

Yellow/Black Treehoppers with Ants

July 14th, 2012 - 9:06 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

~5mm | January 7, 2012 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Here’s yet a different species of colorful treehopper. These too were found in association with ants.

A busy photo, but packed with natural history.

Ants Tending Treehoppers, Poorly Perhaps

July 9th, 2012 - 11:36 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | No comments

~3mm | January 7, 2012 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I had planned to post just a single photo of this scene with ants tending treehoppers. Here we see at least two different colorful treehopper instars, with one actively molting. Ants like the one shown above tended to this small grouping of treehoppers. As I was choosing a photo to post, I noticed something strange about the treehoppers though. Do you see it too?

Look closely and you’ll see that a few nymphs have parasites. I wasn’t sure at first, so I started looking through my other photos. Sure enough, almost every one had one or more parasites. The parasites seem to prefer hiding under the wing pads and below the thorax.

Note the orange parasites hanging below the uppermost treehopper nymphs

See the parasites peeking out from beneath the wing pads of the lower nymph?

Most of the parasites were small, but there were at least a few plump ones.

Note large parasite on uppermost nymph

None of the photos provided a clear view of the parasites, but I suspect they are mites. In any case, apparently the services provided by the ants don’t include grooming.

Membracis Treehoppers and Nymphs

April 29th, 2012 - 6:15 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 4 Comments

~10mm | January 7, 2012 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

When I spotted a group of treehoppers like the one above, I settled in for a while. With such a beautiful subject, I was determined to get some good photos. The shot above is probably my favorite out of around 300 or so shots. I struggled to get something in the background to avoid the usual black background that usually happens with macro flash photos. A black background wasn’t going to serve very well for these mostly black treehoppers.

Not only are the adults pretty, but the nymphs are also attractive in their own way. I prefer the black background here.

5mm | Nymph

The treehoppers cluster together in small groups.

Adult with nymphs

Somewhat surprisingly, these treehoppers didn’t appear to be attended by any ants.

More nymphs

I thought this exuvium was interesting. The interior is orangish, like the spikes on the abdomen. I suppose the base color is really mostly orange with black spots. The white color must really just be white scales.

Exuvium

They were on a good sized tree.

Underside of host branch

While looking around for an identification, I encountered a similar looking species on this plate from the Biologia Centrali-Americana identified as Membracis foliata. This article indicates there’s been confusion around that species though, so it could very well be one of the other species mentioned there (unfortunately I can’t access the full text).

Another Possible Cyphonia Treehopper

November 23rd, 2011 - 10:13 AM | Filed under Featured Photos | 2 Comments

3mm long | July 6, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This might be another Cyphonia species. I’ve seen a few similar ones before, but not one quite like this.

Side view

I believe these photos are all of the same individual, but I can’t be sure. It was skittish, but when spooked it always seemed to land close by.

Another view

These really are very small treehoppers, only around 3mm long.

Dorsal view

Dorsal view

Thorn Mimic Treehoppers

October 8th, 2011 - 4:42 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 4 Comments

10mm long | July 5, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Treehoppers like this one are sometimes said to mimic thorns. If so, it would have to be a dull thorn, and it doesn’t do it much good hanging out on a leaf. More often though, you’ll find them hanging out together on branches.

Group of treehoppers

Ants Tending Leafhoppers

July 6th, 2011 - 7:37 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 3 Comments

July 2, 2011 | Monte Alegre, Minas Gerais, Brazil

These ants are tending to some treehopper nymphs. Most of the ants are busy collecting honeydew, but the one on the bottom has noticed me and is on alert. I accidentally bumped the branch after this shot and all of the ants started running around looking for something to attack. I held up a leaf for a background here so that the ants would stand out.

In this next shot, I’m assuming the white areas are either treehopper eggs or a protective covering for the eggs. One of the adult treehoppers is also visible here, a darker shade of red than the nymphs.

Egg mass and adult treehopper

In this final shot, there are more eggs, another adult and some late instar nymphs.

More eggs and some late instar nymphs

Another Bizarre Treehopper

December 27th, 2010 - 6:49 PM | Filed under Featured Photos | 4 Comments

January 31, 2010 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I’ve shown a couple of odd treehoppers already, but here’s yet another variation on that theme. This time, I do kinda see a resemblance to an ant.

Dorsal view

Marshall’s 500 Insects includes a very similar looking treehopper identified as a Cyphonia species.

500 Insects:
A Visual Reference

by Stephen A. Marshall

Freshly Molted Treehopper Nymphs

November 26th, 2010 - 9:05 AM | Filed under Featured Photos | 1 Comment

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

There are a couple of freshly molted treehopper nymphs shown here. Just below them, you can see a shed exoskeleton. Their colors will return as their new skins harden. In the meantime, they inflate themselves so that their new skins harden larger than their previous ones.

Below is an adult that was hanging around a bit farther down the stem. That’s what they’ll eventually look like. You can see how the horn gets bigger with each molt.

Adult

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