Subject: Aetalionid treehoppers
Location: Jaraguá, São Paulo, Brazil
September 3, 2012 10:49 am
I have lots of this bugs and I thought I could call them leafhoppers, but now I think I correct identified them as aetalionid treehoppers Aetalion reticulatum. The plant where they’re feeding is Cajanus cajan, the same as the membracid treehoppers you identified for me.
I registered a couple producing that substance. The picture where we can see lots of nymphs was taken four months later (that was not the time they hatch). I can say that this nymphs seem to be very very aggressive, it seems that they never leave the place where they was born but, if you hold the tip of the branch, they all come in the direction of your hand!
Signature: Cesar Crash
Thank you for sending in your wonderful photos of Aetalion reticulatum. We believe the first image with two individuals and an ant represents two females laying eggs. We believe the frothy substance is a mass of eggs with some protective secretion. We also believe the Treehoppers must release honeydew which attracts the ants. We verified our second theory thanks to the American Insects page on the species where it states: “Aetalion reticulatum is often tended by ants (see photo below) or stingless bees. The specific epithet refers to the net-like pattern of veins on the forewing.” Beetles in the Bush has this comment on a similar photo: “The individual pictured here is a female and she is guarding her egg mass. Females lay clutches of up to 100 eggs, which are covered in a viscous secretion.”