Tree hopper vs. Leafhopper

<em>Membracis dorsata</em> (&copy; Nicholas Locke)
Membracis dorsata (© Nicholas Locke)
Leafhopper nymph (&copy; Nicholas Locke)
Leafhopper nymph (© Nicholas Locke)

Tree hoppers and thorn bugs are quite the most amazing looking insects of the Membracae family, of which 3200 species are known in 600 genera. They are particularly amazing looking and are characterized by having an overgrown pronortum, the dorsal part of the their prothorrax, that makes up their exoskeleton head armour. They take on curious shapes and sizes for small insects and though they only live for a short few weeks, sucking sap from plants they have been around for 40 million years.

REGUA has its fair share and our entomologists are always on the look-out for them. These are small black and white tree hoppers, Membracis dorsata and were seen in the reforestation area.

They are not to be confused with Leafhoppers or Cicadellidae, minute plant leaf sap suckers and able to jump huge distances. There are over 40 sub families so one expects more leafhoppers than their cousin tree hoppers. This bright red one is a nymph stage and we shall wait to see which mature hopper he will develop into. It was found on the low leaves of the dense vegetation on our green trail to the waterfall.

The web has been brilliant for insects not for catching them, but involving a huge number of enthusiasts around the world sharing images and data to help identify them, monitor them, talk about them and increase our knowledge of these extraordinary animals.