Although this cute little leafhopper has several names – Neokolla hieroglyphica and, formerly Graphocephala gothica, it doesn’t have a common name. It’s in the leafhopper family Cicadellidae (sik-ah-DELL-ih-dee), a group that the BugLady used to call “pop-bugs” in her youth because they landed on her jeans in the fields, and when she touched their rear ends, they popped away.
The BugLady has been stalking invertebrates that hang out on the east wall of the Field Station lab. The wall is painted cinderblock that warms up in the morning and probably keeps some heat as it gets shaded in the afternoon. Grass grows right up to the edge of the building. The BugLady hypothesizes that bugs can enjoy the residual warmth without getting fried by the sun, because she sees some small critters on the north wall but very few on the bright south wall. She found some familiar faces and some new ones—plant-eaters and an array of carnivores that come to collect the herbivores.
The Candy-striped Leafhopper is one spiffy little insect—easily overlooked, but once seen, unforgettable because of its coat(s) of many colors. CSLs lay eggs in plant leaves, and the nymphs hatch in spring and feed on the juices in the new leaves. They practice Incomplete Metamorphosis, with the nymphs completing five molts on the way to a adulthood. Despite the small size of the eggs, nymphs, and adults, they are discovered by parasites and by predators like birds, spiders, and fellow-insects.
This episode, “Homopterans on Parade,” is about four groups of small plant-juice-suckers that grace (and sometimes damage) our vegetation.