Planthopper

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

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.