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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hey Babe; What's your sign?

This large leaf hopper is probably homalodisca vitripennis, the glassy-winged sharpshooter, although it could be the smoke tree sharpshooter, homalodisca lacerta. The basic difference is the white markings on the head are dots on h. vitripennis, and on h. lacerta they are wavy blobs or lines. I dunno; those white marks on this guy's head do look more like dots than blobs. Both species tap into the xylem of the plant for nutrients; the glassy-winged spreads a super-bad bacterial disease to grapes, citrus and oleanders. In this case, the insect is feeding on a stalk of broom corn (actually sorghum); the pressure of the plant sap is such that the insect's digestive system can't process it fast enough so it eliminates droplets (known politely as "honeydew") to make room for more. What a lush!

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