Saturday, August 4, 2012

Oncometopia orbona (Broaded-headed Sharpshooter)

I found a cute little Oncometopia orbona leafhopper in my yard a few weeks ago. I took one photo and then realized that it wasn’t going to hop away soon and was as interested in me as I was it so I turned on the movie mode to my camera and was rewarded with a show.

My camera is bright red and I was very close so this is what the leafhopper was looking at. So you can see it was now something it was used to seeing. I suspect that it might have actually seen its own reflection in the lens which might have spurred on its actions.

It seems to me that it was looking side to side to get a good view and then begin to wave me off. He arm was looks like it was gesturing in sign and then ended with a “be gone” with a flourish. I don’t think it was grooming because they usually do that with their hind legs and it was obviously looking at the camera. See what you think.

The common name is Broad-headed Sharpshooter and it is among the largest of the North American leafhoppers. This one was on my milkweed plant but they commonly feed on other plant sap in meadows and woodland edges. This one is a male; the females have chalky spots on their forewings called brochosomes which they scrap onto their eggs to protect them from drying in the hot July sun.

I’m not sure exactly why they are called sharpshooters but one web site suggested that it was because of their ability to quickly project themselves into the air like a bullet or because they shoot their wastes with a lot of force. It is a member of the Leafhopper (family Cicadelidae). There was very little written about them that I could find.

1 comment:

Robin Armstrong Seeber said...

I ADORE sharpshooters, they are one of the cutest bugs by far~~ always enjoy your photos and information..robin