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leafhoppers

Cicadellidae

What do they look like?

(See Homoptera page for additional information. ) These small (adults less than 13 mm long) insects are slim, with a wide blunt head and sucking mouthparts tucked in underneath it. They have 2 pairs of wings, and the front pair is often thickened and colored. They are most often green or yellow, but some have more colors and patterns. Adult leafhoppers can fly, but also hop quickly off a plant if disturbed. They are very active. Immatures lack wings so hop, or run, often sideways. Like aphids they sometimes excrete excess sugar solution. On the sides of their abdomen that have two flexible panels called "tymbals" that they can vibrate to make small sounds.

Where do they live?

Found all over the world, there are over 3,000 species. In Michigan alone there are nearly 200.

What kind of habitat do they need?

On plants.

How do they grow?

See Homoptera page for basic information. Leafhoppers mature fast. In many species several generations can occur over just one summer.

How long do they live?

Usually just a few weeks or months, except for individuals that live through the winter by going dormant. These may last a year.

How do they behave?

Leafhoppers sometimes migrate seasonally to and from a winter dormancy area. They are not particularly social, but can communicate by emitting vibrations that carry down the stems that they are on.

How do they communicate with each other?

Leafhoppers have many means of communication. They're brightly colored, they have their special vibrating tymbals, plus the chemical communication that all insects use.

What do they eat?

All leafhoppers suck fluid from plants.

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Leafhoppers dodge predators with their quick movements. Some emit a distress call that may startle a predator and cause it to drop the leafhopper. The bright colors on some suggest they might be toxic, but we don't have any information on this.

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

These insects are carry lots of plant diseases.

Do they cause problems?

Leafhoppers are major agricultural pests. The main form of damage is caused by the diseases that they carry from plant to plant, but they also sometimes damage crops directly by their feeding as well. Leafhopper populations grow so fast that they can quickly become a problem.

  • Ways that these animals might be a problem for humans
  • crop pest

How do they interact with us?

Leafhoppers are a food source for many small predators.

Are they endangered?

No leafhopper species are known to be endangered.

  • IUCN Red List [Link]
    Not Evaluated

Contributors

George Hammond (author), Animal Diversity Web.

Glossary

Australian

Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

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Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

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Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

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Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

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bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends.

bog

a wetland area rich in accumulated plant material and with acidic soils surrounding a body of open water. Bogs have a flora dominated by sedges, heaths, and sphagnum.

chaparral

mid-altitude coastal areas with mild, rainy winters and long, dry summers. Dominant plant types are dense, evergreen shrubs.

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

diurnal
  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
ectothermic

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

marsh

marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.

migratory

makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nomadic

generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Climbing plants are also abundant. There is plenty of moisture and rain, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

swamp

a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.

taiga

this biome is characterized by large expanses of coniferous forest, there is an extended cold season and heavy snowfall.

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

 
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Hammond, G. . "Cicadellidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 24, 2014 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Cicadellidae/

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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