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This really cute little Treehopper is only 5 mm long and looks like the silhouette of a cat with it's tail raised. The pictures of Cladonota gonzaloi from Ecuador (see reference) are more brown overall, this one has white around the head and undersides as well as a green tinge in the helmet structure. It is very active and flies almost immediately.
On bushes under the San Cristobal Bridge on the Highway between San Cristobal de Las Casas and Tuxtla Gutierrez, km 15, 1,500 meters.
Treehoppers are truly amazing in many ways. Their fantastic mimetic forms and shapes are well known and admired, however they also have a highly evolved system of vibrational communication both among themselves and with their symbiotic partners (especially ants). They have parental care of the nymphs involving protection of the egg masses as well as the nymphs - and in some species, the adults even make grooves in the plant tissue for the early instars that would otherwise have trouble feeding with their tiny, soft probosces. They have complex relationships both among themselves and with ants and have evolved a digestive system that concentrates sap sugars to entice ants to help protect them in exchange for food. Species with ant caretakers also have the advantage of having their exudates carried away and don't have to worry about fungal infections. Species without ant caretakers have often evolved longer annal tubes to get the excretions as far away from themselves as possible. See this neat article by Rafael Rodriquez et al. VIBRATIONAL COMMUNICATION AND REPRODUCTIVE ISOLATION IN THE ENCHENOPA BINOTATA SPECIES COMPLEX OF TREEHOPPERS (HEMIPTERA: MEMBRACIDAE). Evolution, 58(3), 2004, pp. 571–578.
Spotted on Aug 14, 2013
Submitted on Aug 19, 2013
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