Location: Ft. Lauderdale, FL
January 9, 2011 2:39 pm
We recently discovered our powder puff bushes in the backyard had become a home to these creatures. We tried to look them up everywhere and havent been successful. We think they might be some kind of infant insects but are not sure. There’s a bunch of them, they have wings, their bodies seem point and yellow. If you could help us we’d be most appreciative.
These are not immature insects. They are adult Treehoppers in the family Membracidae, and we believe they are Thorn Treehoppers, Umbonia crassicornis, based on a photo posted to BugGuide. The Info page on BugGuide quotes the University of Florida Featured Creatures website which describes them as: “a variable species as to size, color and structure, particularly the pronotal horn of males. Typically, the adult is about 0.5 inch in length and is green or yellow with reddish lines and brownish markings. … Young nymphs have three horns instead of the one seen on the adults.“ The Featured Creatures site also indicates: “The thorn bug is an occasional pest of ornamentals and fruit trees in southern Florida. During heavy infestations, nymphs and adults form dense clusters around the twigs, branches and even small tree trunks. Some hosts which have been severely damaged include Hibiscus sp., powder-puff (Calliandra spp.), woman’s tongue tree (Albizzia lebbek), and Acacia spp. Young trees of jacaranda (Jacaranda acutifolia) and royal poinciana (Delonix regia) with a diameter of 1.5 to 2 inches have been killed by thorn bugs in the Tampa area. The trunks were so heavily infested that is was difficult to place a finger anywhere on the trunk without touching a specimen. Damage is caused by sucking the sap and by oviposition cuts. Butcher (1953) reported that certain trees, especially some cassias, suffered considerable loss of foliage, and that pithecellobiums (Pithecellobium spp.) suffered general and extensive terminal twig death. He also mentioned that thorn bug honey-dew secretions and accompanying sooty mold development caused a nuisance to home owners. Kuitert (1958) noted that heavy accumulations of honey-dew sometimes occurred on parked automobiles. There are reports of barefooted children stepping on the spines of thorn bugs which drop out of trees. The wounds are slow healing and sometimes become infected.“