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Mimicry of Siphanta acuta edit1.jpg
Siphanta acuta, part of the Flatidae family
Scientific classification

Planthoppers are insects in the infraorder Fulgoromorpha. They are true bugs (Hemiptera), with over 12,500 described species.

They are cryptic mimics: their body shape and colours look like leaves and other plant parts in their environment. They either walk very slowly or hop like grasshoppers.

Members of this group are plant-feeders, and live world-wide. Few are pests, but some are vectors for plant diseases. Phytoplasmas which live in the phloem of plants can be transmitted by planthoppers when feeding.[1]

Their nymphs have a biological gear mechanism at the base of the hind legs, which keeps the legs in synchrony when the insects jump.[2]

In popular culture[change | change source]

The planthopper is mentioned in a key scene from Alfred Hitchcock's film Marnie:[3]

"In Kenya, there is quite a beautiful flower – rather like a hyacinth. If you should reach out to touch it, you would discover that the flower is not a flower at all, but a design made up of hundreds of tiny insects called flatid bugs. They escape the eyes of hungry birds by living and dying in the shape of a flower".

References[change | change source]

  1. Lee et al 2000. Phytoplasmas: phytopathogenic mollicutes. Annual Review of Microbiology 54 221-255.
  2. Burrows M. & Sutton G. 2013. Interacting gears synchronize propulsive leg movements in a jumping insect. Science 341 (6151),1254-1256 DOI: 10.1126/science.1240284
  3. Tony Lee Moral (2002). Hitchcock and the making Of Marnie. Manchester University Press. p. 48. Google Books. Retrieved November 16, 2013.