Sunday, August 16, 2009

Candy-striped Leafhopper

I went over to Miami County today on a whirlwind afternoon visit to a place called Greenville Falls. Located just west of Covington, at a point where Greenville Creek cascades over a gorgeous series of limestone shelves, the scenery alone is worth the visit.

But for those of a botanical bent, it's the sheer 30-40 foot limestone cliffs that form the north side of the creek that are the attraction. The cliffs weep, constantly moisturized by water jetted from a perched aquifer, and harbor Ohio's only hanging fen. This plant community is most unusual and very showy, and the main reason I went. I'll try and share the place with you later, when there's a bit more time.

But for now, a bug that I saw in the surrounding fields.

I meet the inscrutable gaze of a Candy-striped Leafhopper, Graphocephala coccinea. Diminutive in the extreme, ten could probably have a party on your thumbnail. They're common, just easy to miss.

But you don't want to miss anything that looks like this, and I would advise checking the foliage a bit more closely. There might even be one in your garden.
Outrageous, and I am grateful for heavy-duty macro lens and a nice flash tower so that decent shots of wee fauna such as this can be passably presented. Candy-striped Leafhoppers stretch the tape to about eight millimeters.

This is a Hemipteran, or true bug, and it makes its living by sucking sap from plants. They tap juice over a broad swath, too, ranging throughout much of the U.S. and southern Canada, and making it all the way down south to Panama.

This leafhopper was photographed on one of our most reviled native plants, Giant Ragweed, Ambrosia trifida. The pollen of this species is the major source of hay fever. I encountered some stands of the ragweed today, and was amazed at the richness of the insect life within. We may not like ragweed, but apparently that's not true of bugs.


Jana said...

It's so pretty. I hope you get a collection of colorful leaf-hopper photos going. I've marveled at their colors but have never seen a good close-up photo before. The problem with leaf-hoppers is that they're little, and they never stick around very long to be admired.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I have had one of these little beauties in our garden. I am glad you presented this so I know what it was called.

Susan Gets Native said...

Thank you, Jim! Thank you, thank you!
We have these all over our yard, and I was just too lazy to look up the name.
My seven-year old and I just call them "Those stained-glass window leafhoppers".

dAwN said...

What a most lovely specimen! Wonderful photo..shows off its colors!
I love the name Susan and her daughter gave them.
"Those stained-glass window leafhoppers".

Jack said...

I like the first one..its too good..nice shot..thanks for sharing..

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