Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Strange insect spotted at Botanic Gardens

Strange insect spotted at Botanic Gardens
This strange brown insect was spotted emerging from a cocoon at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The STOMPer, who spotted it, wonders what it is.

In an e-mail, he says:

"While trekking through the trails of the tropical rainforest at Botanic Gardens I came upon this white-coloured cocoon on the bottom of a large leaf.

"On looking closer, I found a black insect with brown eyes on the top of the leaf which could possibly had emerged a short while earlier from the cocoon."

Strange insect spotted at Botanic Gardens

The insect looks like it's a froghopper (Cercopoidea). Like their close relatives the leafhoppers (F. Cicadellidae) and treehoppers (F. Membracidae), froghoppers are herbivorous bugs with piercing mouthparts, which they use to suck the sap of plants.

Unidentified froghopper, Pulau Ubin;
(Photo by Marcus)

Froghoppers are famous for a trait seen in the nymphs of most species; the nymphs create a thick and white foam out of plant sap (the 'white-coloured cocoon' in the original post). They hide in this protective froth, not only for protection from predators, but also to seek refuge from extreme temperatures and to conserve water. Hence another common name for these bugs is spittlebug.

Nest of 'spittlebug', Florida;
(Photo by rc6750)