If there is a game about “the strangest insects in the world”, the tree hoppers will definitely have the chance to win the first place! They have countless shapes and colors. When you first see them, you will definitely think, what is this? What are the raised corners used for, and how can they be like the propeller of a helicopter? Can it be lifted vertically? These dazzling shapes and behaviors make people want to imagine and explore!
Look and have creativity
Tree hoppers are a type of Hemiptera insect, including spider mites and mites. There are currently more than 400 genera of tree hoppers, and there are about 3,200 species. Like other animals of its kind, they are also equipped with a sputum (mouth) that pierces the stems of plants and sucks in juice. Their cockroaches grow a bit like mosquitoes, with two connected needle-shaped feeding tubes, one for siphoning liquid and the other for secreting saliva to prevent liquid from clotting.
Tree hoppers are the most creative “children” in the “insect class”. Many tree hoppers “show off” their exotic objects, such as the “magic ball” like a helicopter propeller (right) Others are sloppy, imitating the faeces of thorns, leaves or insects; there are even some imitations of ants or wasps.
Typical features are their vertical face, an abnormally enlarged chest, one or more thorns that are elongated in front of the head, and a cap-like covering that is elongated behind the body. Because of these elf-like appearances, they are sometimes called “insect brownies.”
Insect anatomists explain that these strange animals grow grotesque and colorful, apparently for camouflage. Tree hoppers have a lot of camouflage, and their purpose is the same: grows into a “not like” delicious insect, reducing the possibility of being prey.
They range in color from green to blue to bronze, usually with spots or streaks. The bright colors indicate that they contain toxins in the body and cannot be eaten by themselves. The thorns and barbs on the body seem to warn that they may be difficult to swallow.
In addition, in order to cover themselves, they have reached the peak of “imitation”! For example, the strange spherical shape covered by their bodies is very similar to Cordyceps fungus, and this is a common insecticidal fungus in the rain forest. Few insects dare to touch, so most insects are far away from them.
Not only that, the thoracic cavity of the tree hopper is connected to the nerves and hair, and it is easy to receive the vibrational stimuli. When the enemy is not too close, they can already sense the danger and avoid the damage.
Ecological diversity and exploration significance
Tree hopper has an oversized group! Only about a quarter of the species are now individually named, and there are still about 700 waiting for scientific descriptions and naming. The survival of many species of tree worms is related to trees, and as their common names show, these tiny insects are widely found in woody and herbaceous plants all over the world, and they are found throughout the forests and trees. . It can be said that except for Antarctica, they can be found on all continents.
Since the distribution of tree hoppers reflects the diversity of biodiversity, experts who care about and protect global biodiversity have conducted extensive research on tree hoppers.
Studies have found that all tree hoppers feed on the sap of plants, and the loss of plant species can seriously affect the diversity of tree hoppers; in turn, tree hoppers are also essential for the survival of other species. For example, tree hoppers are important foods for insectivores, including other arthropods and various vertebrates.
Studying the different patterns, behaviors, ecology and distribution patterns of tree hoppers has great reference and reference for exploring evolutionary biology, genetics, environment and biogeography. Especially in evolutionary biology, the study of tree hoppers can help us to conduct more in-depth research in the fields of cohort evolution, acoustic communication, host plant combinations, biogeography, behavior and evolutionary biology.
Are tree worms pests?
In the spring, the light green nymphs of the tree hoppers grow and feed on nearby weed sap. When they mature, they return to the tree to lay eggs in midsummer. When a female lays its eggs in cracks on the bark, fungal and other plant diseases may enter through these gaps, damaging trees and shrubs; if one of the plants carries a transgenic plant pathogen, the nymph grows up When flying to other plants, it increases the likelihood that other species will be infected. In doing so, some tree hoppers have seriously damaged their hosts, so that they are considered pests.
However, it cannot be said that tree hoppers are pests. After all, they are so important to maintaining ecological balance! In fact, because they are often content to eat only the fruits of one plant in their lifetime, most tree hoppers have little threat to important cash crops. Therefore, it is still impossible to delineate that they are pests.
Mutual benefit of the animal world
In insects, tree hoppers have a series of unusual behavioral and ecological interactions. Individual tree hoppers usually only survive for a few months. Sometimes, tree hoppers need help from ants.
Tree hoppers often benefit from interactions with ants, which also protect tree hoppers from predators. As a result of ingesting a large amount of plant juice (phloem), the tree hoppers secrete a sugary substance called “nectar”, which is a by-product of sweetness produced during digestion. It is this honeydew that provides food for a variety of opportunistic ants, bees and wasps, and ants protect tree hoppers from predators for the purpose of continuing to eat honeydew. Coincidentally, nymphs have an extendable anal canal that appears to deposit honeydew from their bodies. It is important to dispose of the honeydew around the anal canal, otherwise it will infect black mold. Therefore, one of the obvious benefits of ants for tree-hopping nymphs is that ants can provide “clean” services, remove excess honeydew from their bodies, and reduce the growth of fungi.