Mysterious psychedelic bug
Location: North Carolina
January 13, 2011 9:56 pm
Hello, I made two interesting discoveries in my back yard a few years ago: while I was gardening, I came across a small pot plant that appeared to be growing wild in an overgrown corner of my property. Even more curious was the fact that the plant was covered with a dozen or so of these beautiful, brightly colored insects that I have never seen before or since. I managed to take one photo before the bugs scattered, but they were very active and it was difficult to find one that would stay put for long enough to photograph. Can you identify this insect? I am very curious. (the pot plant went into the compost pile, by the way.)
Signature: Psychedelic bug finder
Dear Psychedelic bug finder,
You have found a Broad-Headed Sharpshooter, Oncometopia orbona, which according to BugGuide is “The only common, widely-distributed member of this genus in the Eastern US (per Dr Andy Hamilton’s comment).” Sharpshooters are Leafhoppers, and though many are brightly colored, rather pretty insects, they are also considered to be problematic insects in the garden. Because they have sucking mouthparts, when they are numerous can cause damage to young shoots on plants by sucking the juices from tender stems. Also, they might spread viral infections to plants.