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by Valerie

August, 2017

Acanaloniid Planthopper

There are lots of small insects with this same general common name and none more specific, so our featured planthopper (Acanalonia conica) will have to remain only so vaguely designated. Members of a fair number of families are all referred to as simply "planthoppers" due to their small size, inconspicuous nature, and superficial similarities. This particular kind is in the family Acanaloniidae and is among the vast majority of insects that are considered neither beneficial nor destructive from a human perspective. They are rarely noticed since they don't cause significant damage to garden crops or ornamental plantings and are simply part of the vast food web and ecological fabric that creates a healthy and diverse biome. As with all planthoppers, these tiny leaf mimics feed on plant juices, using their tube-shaped mouthparts. This pair happened to be feasting on giant ragweed. When threatened, their first defense is to remain still and rely on their leaf-like camouflage. The prying camera lens caused them to slowly change positions and try to scoot around to the far side of the stem. Their last resort is to leap off and fly away.

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