Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Membracids on Black Walnut

Walnut membracid nymphs

In June, while I was following the spittlebugs through their lifecycle, I found these handsome membracid nymphs cohabiting with them on the black walnut trees in the yard. These treehoppers were attended by two different ant species. Some arboreal hemipterans exude a sugary fluid that attracts ants (and is known as "manna" when gathered by humans for food), and others exude a wax that ants find attractive. I don't know what's going on here, but the ants are not harming or disturbing the membracids.

Membracid nymphs tended by ant One membracid nymph with ant attendant

While poking around on BugGuide.net, I found photographs of these same treehopper nymphs on Black Walnut, and was surprised to read that it was an undescribed species, so designated by Andy Hamilton of The Canadian National Collection (CNC) of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes. I collected a few nymphs and, after the final molt, some adults. (I don't normally do this, and that's why my photos seldom have specific ephithets--no specimen, no species id.) I've always had a special (though certainly not "inordinate") fondess for treehoppers, but these green and black fellows are particularly striking.

Membracid adult Oair of adult Membracids

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