Insect guide > Hoppers


(Family Membracidae.)
These insects comprise some of the most grotesque species which nature has evolved. Comstock offers the ant suggestion that "Nature must have been in a joking mood when tree hoppers were developed". The antennae are inserted in front of and between the eyes and the prothorax is prolonged so that it frequently covers the rest of the body. It is by the curious modifications of this prothorax that the strange and grotesque forms of the insects are produced. The majority of these modifications have been developed in order to bring about protective resemblance since by these modifications the insects are made to look like different plant structures.

The thorn-like process on the thorax of the common little tree hopper of the bitter-sweet (Erchenopa binotata) is a good example. The insects customarily rest in such position along the twig of a vine that they precisely resemble vegetable thorns. This family like so many others reaches its most remarkable development in the tropics but many strange forms occur in the United States. The species just mentioned, when enlarged, bears a fanciful resemblance to the partridge and was once the subject of a charming popular article by the late William Hamilton Gibson. A common form is the little hump-backed species known as Telamona monticola, which sometimes swarms upon the branches of the Virginia creeper in June.

Another most interesting form is that known as Entilia sinuata, which is found upon the leaves of sun-flower and other annual plants. This species lays its eggs in the midĀ­rib of the upper leaves. The mother insect broods over her eggs until they are hatched and the young from the time of hatching until full grown are constantly attended by ants which are attracted to the sweet secretion which this insect, together with many others of the same family, just as with certain of the Jassidae, exudes from its anus.