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