Brazilian Treehopper

Bocydium globulare

Last updated: October 19, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© 1,970 × 1,478 pixels, file size: 1.91 MB, MIME type: image/jpeg – License / Original

Brazilian Treehopper Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Arthropoda
Class
Insecta
Order
Hemiptera
Family
Membracidae
Genus
Bocydium
Scientific Name
Bocydium globulare

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Brazilian Treehopper Conservation Status


Brazilian Treehopper Facts

Prey
Leaves
Name Of Young
Nymph
Group Behavior
  • Gregarious
  • Subsocial
Fun Fact
They feed on tree sap!
Most Distinctive Feature
Crown shaped like multiple balls
Other Name(s)
Ball Bearing Treehopper
Temperament
Non-aggressive
Habitat
Tops of leafy trees
Predators
Birds, Rodents, Reptiles, Insects
Diet
Herbivore
Average Litter Size
60 eggs
Favorite Food
Leaves
Common Name
Brazilian Treehopper
Location
North America, South America, Australia, Asia, and Africa
Slogan
“Mild-Mannered Minimonsters”
Nesting Location
Lays eggs in the stem of a leaf

Brazilian Treehopper Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Brown
  • Black
  • Tan
  • White-Brown
  • Black-Brown
Skin Type
Shell
Length
5-6mm
Aggression
Low

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View all of the Brazilian Treehopper images!



Brazilian Treehoppers are insects from the Membracidae family, of the Hemiptera order of true bugs. They have a distinct cluster of ball-shaped growths on their back, which gives them an intimidating appearance, though they are only the size of a pea and feed on sap. They are not endangered and can be found on many continents.

Brazilian Treehopper Facts

  • The Brazilian Treehopper has what appears to be a “helmet” of balls on its head. This structure grows out of the pronotum, which is part of the thorax just behind the head.
  • They are very small, averaging about 5-6mm in length.
  • Like cicadas, they feed on sap.
  • As their bodies process the sap, Brazilian Treehoppers create a sugar-like substance called “honeydew” which other insects (such as ants) can eat. The insects then protect this source of food from predators.
  • The females stay with the eggs after they’re laid in the stem of a leaf. They then protect the nymphs as they grow.
  • They communicate with their kind by sending vibrations through the tree they’re in. They can call others to a particularly good feeding spot or warn of predators.
  • Alfred Keller, a sculptor employed by the Berlin Museum of Natural History from 1930 until his death in 1955, created a model of the Brazilian Treehopper out of papier mache, magnified 100 times. His models could take up to a year to produce.

Brazilian Treehopper Species, Types, and Scientific Name

The scientific name of the Brazilian Treehopper is Bocydium globulare because of the globular growths on the insect’s back. Most species of treehopper have some kind of structure on their backs, but the Brazilian Treehopper is unique in its cluster of ball-like structures.

Appearance: How to Identify the Brazilian Treehopper

Brazilian Tree Hopper
Though they cannot bite, treehoppers can carry diseases from one tree to another.

©KAISARMUDA/Shutterstock.com

Clearly, the most distinguishing feature of the Brazilian Treehopper is its “helmet.” The cluster of globes above its head is unique, and scientists are still trying to understand its evolutionary function, though many assume it is to deter predators. Apart from its distinctive headgear, the Brazilian Treehopper most closely resembles a pea-sized black, white, and tan cicada (another sap-sucking insect.)

Habitat: Where to Find the Brazilian Treehopper

Treehoppers are known to be on every continent. Brazilian Treehoppers are found in the tropical forests of Africa, Asia, North America, South America, and Australia. They prefer to live in the top branches of leafy trees where they can feed.

Prevention: How to Get Rid of Brazilian Treehoppers

Though they cannot bite, treehoppers can carry diseases from one tree to another. If they are found to be infesting cargo, the U.S. Animal Plant Health Inspection Service may direct the cargo company to fumigate the ship or destroy the cargo.

Diet: What Do Brazilian Treehoppers Eat?

Brazilian Treehoppers feed on the sap of leaves. When the female lays eggs, she lays them in the stem of a leaf and bores holes into it so the nymphs can feed when they hatch.

Similar Insects to Brazilian Treehoppers

Like Brazilian Treehoppers, Cicadas are also from the Hemiptera order, and the nymphs feed on tree sap. Underneath the structure on the pronotum, the body of a treehopper even resembles that of a tiny cicada.

View all 233 animals that start with B

About the Author

After 22 years as a reference and teen librarian, I am now a freelance writer and novelist based in Cincinnati. I enjoy spending time with my family, hiking, photography, woodworking, listening to classic rock, and watching classic films--my favorite animal is a six-foot-tall rabbit named Harvey.

Brazilian Treehopper FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Brazilian Treehoppers dangerous to humans?

Despite their fierce appearance, treehoppers can not bite, and they have no stinger. These tiny insects have a small strawlike mouth used to drink sap from leaves. They are quite harmless to humans. They can, however, carry diseases across tree populations, which has the potential to impact our food supply.

Can the Brazilian Treehopper fly?

When startled, the treehopper can fly away.

What is the Brazilian Treehopper's life cycle?

Brazilian Treehoppers hatch from eggs and progress to the nymph stage. The nymphs grow into mature adults.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Tree Hugger / Autumn Spanne, Available here: https://www.treehugger.com/facts-about-brazilian-treehoppers-5196361
  2. [email protected] / Hannah-Marie Spehar, Available here: https://blogs.lt.vt.edu/hml20/2015/12/02/brazilian-treehopper/
  3. NC Museum of Natural Sciences Research Blog / jasoncryan, Available here: https://naturalsciencesresearch.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/on-treehoppersorwhat-the-heck-is-that-for/
  4. Smithsonian / John Barrat, Available here: https://www.si.edu/stories/beautiful-and-bizarre-treehopper
  5. Why Evolution Is True, Available here: https://whyevolutionistrue.com/2010/11/26/the-surreal-treehoppers/
  6. Smithsonian Magazine / Katherine J. Wu, Available here: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/treehoppers-bizarre-wondrous-helmets-use-wing-genes-grow-180973713/
  7. Insect Museum, Available here: http://treehoppers.insectmuseum.org/public/site/treehoppers/home

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