Planthopper - FramesOfNature
Wildlife Photography & Blog by Santhosh Krishnamoorthy.
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Planthopper

Planthopper - a salute or threat display.. :-)

Planthopper

One day, while trying to photograph something, came across this really, really, weird looking insect. Its behavior was very weird too. Perceiving me as a threat, it started closing down its long hairy tail like extensions, flat on the leaf, as if lying prostrate or in salute. It also started moving in circles, moving forward, sidewards and sometimes backwards too. I really struggled to identify the front and the rear of this insect. Didn’t know what it was at that time.

Planthopper Nymph Plant Hopper Nymph

Planthopper NymphPlanthopper Nymph – a salute or threat display.. :-)

Planthopper NymphPlanthopper Nymph – a salute or threat display.. :-)

Many days later, I came to know that this was a nymph ( young one ) of an insect commonly known as a planthopper. More specifically, from the planthopper family of Eurybrachyidae.

From Wikipedia,

A planthopper is any insect in the infraorder Fulgoromorpha within the Hemiptera. The name comes from their remarkable resemblance to leaves and other plants of their environment and from the fact that they often “hop” for quick transportation in a similar way to that of grasshoppers. However, planthoppers generally walk very slowly so as not to attract attention. Distributed worldwide, all members of this group are plant-feeders,feeding on their sap.

Eurybrachyidae is a small family of planthoppers found in Asia, Australia and Africa; there are over 50 species described in some 20 genera. The frons of the head is characteristic in being broader than it is long.Their large forewings are often colorfully mottled as a means of camouflage, hiding the broad and sometimes colorful abdomen.

Fast forwarding the clock by a few days…………this interesting looking insect was sitting in a groove on a wall, outside our house. Seemed like it was trying to locate an appropriate place for some reason, didn’t know why. Looking up on the web, learnt that this was an adult planthopper, the adult of the nymph that is pictured above. Then the whole story fell into place :) . Had seen a nymph before and now it’s adult form…..

Preparing for egg laying Preparing for laying its eggs

A few minutes later, when I came back to take a look, the insect was still there, almost motionless, with some kind of white waxy secretion coming out of its posterior. I realized, then, that it was laying its eggs and covering them up with a layer of the white secretion. It was tightly packing the eggs with the white substance, a substance, which I read, is strong, hard and water proof as well. How amazing is that!!

Lays her eggs and starts covering them with a spongy secretionLays her eggs and starts covering them with a white waxy secretion

Packing her eggs nicely in a white spongy case....Packing her eggs nicely in a white spongy case….

The egg case was neatly covered and with its job done, the planthopper left. But, there was another insect, which was interested in the planthopper’s eggs, a parasitic wasp. The tiny insect in the image below is a wasp which was trying to identify the location of the eggs beneath the case’s surface, so that it could penetrate the same and lay its larvae inside of the planthopper’s eggs.

More on these parasitoid wasps here – Parasitoid wasp

Eggs are now layed and packed safely...But, a parsitic wasp is on the prowl!Eggs are now layed and packed safely…But, a parsitic wasp is on the prowl!

The eggs, those infected, will obviously develop into a wasp, while the others which weren’t infected, develop normally and after a certain period of time, from the egg case, emerge the new brood…whole bunch of little planthopper nymphs come into the world, to start on their life’s journey…..

New Brood is out to face the world...New Brood is out to face the world…

…….., leaving behind the deserted remains of their egg case and the egg shells……

Hatched egg shells...Hatched egg shells…

These nymphs, being so tiny and defenseless, might easily fall prey to predators. Hence, they seem to rely on mimicry, some on camouflage and also try to take the help of ants as their bodyguards, by providing the ants with their honeydew secretion, sugary rich liquid, made from the tree sap, that they feed on.

12 Comments
  • Anisha
    Posted at 14:50h, 01 September Reply

    Wow. Great find!

    • Santhosh
      Posted at 18:38h, 01 September Reply

      Thanks Anisha…

  • Vinodh Ve
    Posted at 15:53h, 01 September Reply

    Hi Santhosh
    Nice observation and great writing. Good good!!! :-)
    Regards
    V Vinodh.

    • Santhosh
      Posted at 18:38h, 01 September Reply

      Thanks Vinodh… :)

  • Poornima Kannan
    Posted at 22:03h, 01 September Reply

    Superb post with very good pictures Santosh

    • Santhosh
      Posted at 23:05h, 01 September Reply

      Thanks a lot Poornima…

  • Rana & Sugandhi
    Posted at 23:26h, 01 September Reply

    Very nice observation and information ;)

    • Santhosh
      Posted at 23:37h, 01 September Reply

      Thank you.. ;)

  • Jayanthi Gopalakrishnan
    Posted at 11:15h, 02 September Reply

    Incredible beauty of nature! So much happening in each one’s backyards.

    • Santhosh
      Posted at 11:54h, 02 September Reply

      Very true… Thanks Jayanthi…

  • Deepa Mohan
    Posted at 03:26h, 04 September Reply

    Thank you for this informative post…great macro work.

    • Santhosh
      Posted at 10:24h, 04 September Reply

      Thanks Deepa….

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