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Gum treehopper

Eurymela distincta

Description:

Hypnotic black-white eyes; blue femurs; deep copper-blue-bronze patina through dark gloss; white patches on either shoulder and on either flank; attended and groomed by mid-sized, unknown local ant species.

Habitat:

Eucalyptus trees; south-east coastal open forests, Australia.

Notes:

The ants seem particularly busy at the rear end of the hopper in pic 2. This is where the reward lies for the ants. The ants in return provide protection and cleaning services for eggs, nymphs and adults. Who is controlling who? Pic 4 shows two different stage nymphs. This would appear to be an adult male and the blue colouring might be partly attributable to brochosomes. These are tiny geodetic spherical structures ( bit like Buckminster fullerenes ) which are only known produced by these creatures. They produce them internally and after moulting, excrete some through their anus, spreading it all over their body in a grooming session. The resulting coating looks and behaves like a wax which protects the insect from the sticky sugary substances it makes later to feed the ants. they Read about these fascinating compounds here... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brochosome ..There are also suggestions that some species might use the brochosomes to protect their eggs.

No species ID suggestions

14 Comments

Irina Sh
Irina Sh a year ago

Симбиотические отношения- удивительные.Снимки очень интересные.

Argy Bee
Argy Bee a year ago

Natural buckyballs... incredible.

Argy Bee
Argy Bee a year ago

Great - thanks martinl & lori.tas... I'm going with male E.distincta on this one.

lori.tas
lori.tas a year ago

Hi Mark, see this spotting I just put up: http://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/140... Especially the note about brochosomes.

MartinL
MartinL a year ago

The common jassid ID concerned me because ours seems more strongly black. This link from Victoria reassured me. They seem the same. http://davesgarden.com/guides/bf/showima...
Your pic #2 shows red below. However the blue legs and general sheen need explanation (maybe males?) and you are wise to be cautious about its ID.

Argy Bee
Argy Bee 2 years ago

Thanks SFrazier. Fixed.

Scott Frazier
Scott Frazier 2 years ago

A great spotting but actually does not fit the brooding behaviour mission where one (or two) parent(s) takes care of the young.

Argy Bee
Argy Bee 2 years ago

thanks lars

LarsKorb
LarsKorb 2 years ago

awesome close, Argybee - great catch

Argy Bee
Argy Bee 2 years ago

Done alice. I also included this in 'brooding behaviour' even though they use the ants as nannies to do the work.

alicelongmartin
alicelongmartin 2 years ago

Nice series! Should it be in Symbiotic Relationships in the Missions?

CindyBinghamKeiser
CindyBinghamKeiser 2 years ago

Wonderful beauty and pics!

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 2 years ago

great pics argybee !

Argy Bee
Argy Bee 2 years ago

Pic 4 = younger nymphs being groomed by ants.

Victoria, Australia

Lat: -37.90, Long: 145.31

Spotted on Mar 4, 2012
Submitted on Mar 4, 2012

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