Immature Stages of New World Treehoppers: First Installment, Amastrini
McKamey, S. H.; Wallner, A. M.; Porter, M. J. 2015a. Immatures of the New World treehopper tribe Amastrini (Hemiptera, Membracidae, Smiliinae) with a key to genera. ZooKeys 524: 65-87.

This open access publication is the first in a series intended to provide a guide to identifying the immatures of the New World treehopper genera. Although focused on the tribe Amastrini, this installment reviews prior studies on nymphal membracids in general and provides an overview of the morphological features used to describe them. Here, McKamey et al. provide the first descriptions of the immatures of 8 genera (of 11 total in the tribe), along with an illustrated key to the genera and observations on their biology. With 65 figures (many in color), this work is an essential resource for identifying nymphs of the tribe Amastrini.

Based on its distinct nymphal morphology, Vanduzea laeta nolina Ball is elevated to the rank of species: Vanduzea nolina, new status. Nymphal morphology is also used to support the recognition of Bajulata as a valid genus, distinct from Vanduzea.

We learn from the paper’s literature review that the earliest known study on treehopper immatures seems to have been completed between 1783 and 1794, by H. R. Scheller [published in 1869: Scheller 1869a, plates 8-10]. Nevertheless, even today the immatures of most membracid taxa remain to be described. Thus, we eagerly look forward to future papers by McKamey and associates that will describe the nymphs of additional New World genera and tribes.

Treehoppers: Under Appreciated or Keystone Taxa?
Wagner, D. L.; Gagliardi, B. L. 2015a. Hairstreaks (and other insects) feeding at galls, honeydew, extrafloral nectaries, sugar bait, cars, and other routine substrates. American Entomologist 61(3): 160-167.

In their discussion of the importance of non-floral sugar resources (NFSRs) to hairstreak butterflies, moths, and "hordes" of other insects, entomologists Wagner and Gagliardi suggest these non-floral resources may exceed even flowers, as the primary source of carbohydrates for thousands of adult holometabolous insects. Thus, treehoppers and other honeydew-producing Hemiptera possibly play a far greater role in the population dynamics of insects than anyone previously recognized.

We conclude that treehoppers are indeed keystone taxa. In addition to being significant components of many ecosystems around the world, treehoppers increasingly serve as model organisms for studies of ecology, evolution, and behavior, and also bring joy to all who appreciate the beauty and diversity of the natural world. [L. L. Deitz and M. S. Wallace]

“Cicadas' Charismatic Cousins” Featured at BugFest 2015

Science comedian Brian Malow (left) and Auchenorrhyncha specialist Jason Cryan (center) in the Daily Planet Theater, BugFest 2015. Image © 2015, by Matt Zehr.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, N. C., is host to BugFest, the largest celebration of insects anywhere. Year after year, this event attracts tens of thousands of insect enthusiasts. BugFest 2015 was held on 18 September 2015, and the focal insect was the "cicada." Treehopper aficionados will be pleased to learn that Jason Cryan provided balance to the program by highlighting membracids and other charming cicada relatives in his superb talk Cicadas' Charismatic Cousins.

Watch, Listen, Learn
Delight in the sights and sounds of treehoppers in the wild:

Thornbug Treehopper Mother Defends Offspring from Predatory Stinkbug Nymph (© 2014, by Jennifer Hamel)

Treehoppers Communication (© 2013, by H. Carl Gerhardt)

See also our archive of past news: "Treehopper Videos" (posted 2012-12-13).

archive of past news