Potato bush insect?
While pruning my solanum rantonnetii (commonly called blue potato bush) in San Diego, California, this warm October morning, I encountered clusters of insects I have never seen before. Not that I am an entomologist and should have known these, I am just a humble biochemist. I wonder what you can make of these? They appear to walk blunt end forward. I cannot tell if there is a relationship with the ants all around them. I can’t see any nectar production from these insects, for example. Is there somebody you can forward these pics to that can make an ID if you cannot? I am curious whether these are beneficials that I should encourage. I have several nearby fruit trees, grapes, tomatoes, and herbs. I wonder if they came for a sampling of these plants, though I have never seen them on my crops, or if they came to eat the pests that may be attracted to my crops. Should I be alarmed at these? Thanks for any help you may offer!
These are immature Treehoppers, most likely Keelbacked Treehoppers, Antianthe expansa, an insect commonly associated with solanaceous plants. They suck the vital juices from the plants stems. Adults are green and winged. The ants are attracted to the honeydew they exude. They may spread viruses to your plants.