Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mystery Insect Identified

I like bugs.  Well, that is to say, I like looking at bugs - some bugs - especially the strange, often elaborate insects of the tropical rainforest.

We found about 16 of these critters hustling up a slim palm tree.  Our local guides seemed uninterested in them, and only supplied the information that the trailing white stuff is a fungus.  (It isn't).

Well, as much as I am interested in insects, I don't know anything about them really, including where to start looking on-line for identification.  There are numerous sites pertaining to North American bugs, but no general info sites for anything from South America.

Finally, after a month or so of sending emails and photos off to friends and requesting help from people on-line, I came across (completely by chance) a bug blog that had a photo of 'my mystery bug' AND its name/classification.  Eureka!

Introducing the Reticulated Planthopper aka Wax-tailed Hopper, scientifically known as Pterodictya reticularis 

Photo by Martin Wiener
 That long white stuff is not a fungus, but a waxy substance the insect secretes to foil predators.  The predator grabs the white tail, it detaches, insect escapes and predator is left with a mouth or beak full of wax.

Photo by Martin Wiener
 Full classification:

Common Name: Reticulated Planthopper

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Class: Insecta
Subclass: Pterygota
Order: Hemiptera
Suborder: Auchenorrhyncha

Family: Fulgoridae

Species: Pterodictya reticularis

Info from here:

and here:


  1. Thanks, Harvey. I'm pleased to have this particular little mystery solved.