Subject: Unidentified reed insect
Location: Gifberg, South Africa (S 31.77 E 18.76)
April 1, 2014 2:41 pm
I found this insect North of the Cederberg, in South Africa. It jumped into the open 4×4 truck window from some tall grasses/reeds we were driving through. It seemed capable of jumping, although its legs seem incapable of this feat. Any idea what it may be? I am from South Africa but never saw something like this before. Length was approx 20mm.
This has to be one of the most unusual creatures we have ever been asked to identify, and we really don’t know where to begin regarding its classification, except that it is a Hexapod. We haven’t the time to research this at this moment, so we are posting your photos and we will attempt the identification later today. Perhaps our readership will take a stab at this while we are away from the office.
Karl Identifies Leafhopper
Hi Daniel and Francois:
Given the submission date Daniel, it crossed my mind that you were perhaps being pranked with this one. However, it turns out to be a Restio Leafhopper (Family Cicadellidae: Subfamily Ulopinae: Tribe Cephalelini). These leafhoppers are native to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and the common name derives from the fact that all South African members of the Cephalelini are associated exclusively with the Restionaceae plant family. South Africa has 23 species of Restio Leafhoppers in four genera, 18 of which belong to the genus Cephalelus (so odds are that this is one). All the photos I was able to find showed winged individuals so I expect that this one is a juvenile. If you want to know how such a short-legged beast was able to jump into your truck you could check out this site (stop-action photos and description of Cephalelus in action). Regards. Karl
Eric Eaton Identifies Fulgorid Planthopper
Some kind of fulgoroid. Will have to get back to you later with a more specific answer as I’ll have to look it up and/or query a colleague.
Update: Restio Leafhopper
Ariella wrote today in a comment that this is a Restio Leafhopper, Cephalelus uncinatus, a species pictured on ISpot.
Update from Chris Dietrich
It’s a nymph of the leafhopper (Cicadellidae) genus Cephalelus, which belongs to a tribe that is disjunct in South Africa and Australia. They feed only on Restionaceae.