Phylogeny and Divergence Time Estimates within the Membracoidea
Dietrich, C. H.; Allen, J. M.; Lemmon, A. R.; Lemmon, E. M.; Takiya, D. M.; Evangelista, O.; Walden, K. K. O.; Grady, P. G. S.; Johnson, K. P. 2017a. Anchored hybrid enrichment-based phylogenomics of leafhoppers and treehoppers (Hemiptera: Cicadomorpha: Membracoidea). Insect Systematics and Diversity 1(1): 57–72. [available online]

DNA from 388 loci and more than 99,000 aligned nucleotide positions were used to estimate phylogenetic relationships among 138 taxa representing all major lineages of the superfamily Membracoidea (leafhoppers and treehoppers). In agreement with several previous studies, this work indicates leafhoppers (family Cicadellidae) are paraphyletic with respect to treehoppers (families Aetalionidae, Melizoderidae, and Membracidae). Treehopper taxa represented in the analyses included 2 aetalionid genera (2 tribes), 1 melizoderid genus, and 39 membracid genera (32 tribes). Divergence time estimates suggest the lineage comprising the treehopper families arose during the Cretaceous. Within Membracidae, the authors found strong support for two major sister lineages: one with all treehoppers in which the pronotum extends posteriorly over the scutellum, but does not conceal it–and the other with nearly all treehoppers in which the pronotum entirely conceals the scutellum (but none with the scutellum concealed only in part).

About Ants and Treehoppers
Many treehopper species benefit from interactions with ants that provide "house cleaning" services and sometimes protect the hoppers from predators in exchange for honeydew secreted by the hoppers. The images below show ants tending adults of Stilbophora luteimaculata (Fig. 1: © 2007, by Kelly Swing) and immatures of Bolbonota (Fig. 2: © 2013, by Kenji Nishida).

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To learn more about the relationships among ants and treehoppers, check out these blogs (with videos) at “Wild about Ants:” Ants Tending the Aster Hopper Publilia concava and Well-Guarded Treehoppers.

New Collaborator and Links to Checklists with Treehopper Images
To our lists of collaborators (see Treehoppers Acknowledgments and Archive of Past News), we add Todd F. Elliott (School of Environmental & Rural Sciences, University of New England, New South Wales, Australia).

Figs. 1-2. Todd took these wonderful photos of Anchon speciosum Capener in the Dja Biosphere Reserve in Cameroon; our team member Dawn Flynn identified the treehopper to species.

1 2 Images © 2017, by Todd F. Elliott

Speaking of treehopper images, among the growing number of online resources on treehoppers are the following illustrated checklists for Florida, North Carolina, Signapore, and Texas. Nicky Bay’s treehopper images from Signapore are exceptionally stunning.

"Smithsonian Insider" Features Treehoppers
Barrat, J. 2017a. Beautiful and bizarre, treehoppers suck sap and can spread disease. Smithsonian Insider (Animals, Earth Science, Plants, Q & A, Research News, Science & Nature Animals): 28 August 2017. [online publication]

See this popular article about treehoppers and USDA Systematic Entomology Laboratory scientist Stuart McKamey, a dedicated researcher and member of our Treehoppers Team.

archive of past news