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by Valerie

July, 2012

Black Leaf-leg

black leaf-leg

Some insects are so odd that when they are encountered, a person doesn't know what to make of them. The black leaf-leg (Phylloscelis atra) is one such creature. This small bug looks somewhat like a beetle and is only about 4 mm in length; it is easy to overlook except for the striking colors. The black leaf-leg, named partly for the flat part on the front legs, is related to leafhoppers, cicadas and aphids. It is a planthopper in the family dictyopharidae. There are a number of insect families that are called planthoppers, and all of them feed through a tube, sucking out juices from the cells of plants. This particular species is never very common and so isn't of concern to gardeners in the same way that aphids or mealybugs are. Despite the name, I have only seen one individual that was actually all black. In our area, almost all of these planthoppers come in the striped version shown above.

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