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by Valerie

February, 2016

Leafhopper Nymph

leafhopper nymph

The family cicadellidae contains many genera and species; they are all tiny insects, very few of which have common names. This particular leafhopper nymph (Cuerna costalis) is actually on the large size for the group. Adults of this species can be as long as 1 cm, though this immature individual is about half that. Still, that is bigger than many other adults, which might be only 3-4 mm long.

All leafhoppers feed on plants, using their stiff, tube-like mouthparts to puncture and then suck the liquid from stems and leaves. They often squirt the excess liquid from their rear-ends so forcefully that droplets shoot out several inches. Leafhoppers get their name from the obvious source: their ability to jump many times their body length. This is accomplished by using their long spined hind legs. When this juvenile molts its final time and becomes an adult, it will exchange its bold black and white stripes for a mostly red body and complex network of fine lines on its wings.

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