White and Red Horned bug
Sun, Apr 5, 2009 at 11:48 AM
We live in Jacksonville, Florida, there’s a tree in the back yard, small leaves, and nuts. These small bugs, maybe half an inch long at most, litter the low lying branches. These pictures are of the same group, it’s April now, and they’ve been there for no less than a month, getting bigger, horns growing all the while. They look, if the pictures don’t show it so well, like tiny Cicada, with the addition of the horn atop their heads.
Keegan R. Gilmore
Northern Florida, US (Jacksonville
These are Oak Treehoppers, Platycotis vittata. The tree you describe sounds like an oak, though the fruit is generally called an acorn, not a nut. According to BugGuide there are several color variations, and they are described as: “Grayish spotted with yellow, or turquoise with red stripes and red eyes. With or without a thorn-like horn.” BugGuide also indicates: “Hatching occurs in Spring in the South, and in late Spring in the North. Larva pass through five instars, and adults and larva form aggregations along oak twigs of up to 100 individuals. Females seem to exhibit protective behavior, keeping predators away from the young” and that it “Does almost no damage to the host trees—leaves only a few twig scars from oviposition. ” Treehoppers and Cicadas belong to the same superfamily, Cicadoidea, in the insect order Hemiptera, which explains the resemblance you noticed.