The Umbonia Spinosa

The Umbonia Spinosa Doodlewash

This uncommon creature has an official name that sounds like one of Harry Potter’s spells, but it is sometimes called a treehopper or thorn bug. This delightfully strange bug has scientists rather baffled as there hasn’t been a ton of intense research on them, though they believe it to be closely related to the cicada. Though other thorn bugs have a shape that looks like, well thorns, this one seems to be sporting a strange helmet that appears to be more of a fashion statement than good camouflage.

Like other bugs, they use their sharp mouthparts to pierce plants and stems and suck the sap inside them. Because of their sweet diet, like aphids, they produce a sugary excrement which ants really love called honeydew. Sorry for that unfortunate information. Now, next time you try eating that melon, you’ll be thinking of bug crap. Because of this relationship, the ants become very protective of their treehoppers, and if you try to take one away from them they’ll attack you. They’re sort of like treehopper bodyguards, only with an awkward habit of eating their employer’s poop.

Although related to the loud cicadas, the treehoppers use vibrations to communicate that are inaudible to humans. Unlike some bugs, the mothers will actually stick around after their children are born and chat with them and guard them as they grow up. But there’s still much to learn about these creatures, particularly the uncommon versions like the one shown here, so that’s all I have to share on this one. More unusual creatures ahead and if you have an idea for one, as always, let me know if the comments!


About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Permanent Green Pale, Azo Yellow, Pyrrol Red, Perylene Maroon, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Teal, Neutral Tint and Titanium White Gouache. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

 

Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
52 Comments
  1. Sharon Mann 1 year ago

    Very strange indeed. I like how you were able to acheive the iridescent colors. Beautiful painting today, Charlie. I started ready this while eating! Hahaha.

    • Author

      Thanks Sharon!! 😃💕 And oh no!!! I’m sorry!! I should have out a warning at the top! Lol Glad you liked the colors…that’s what attracted me to this strange little thing! Hehe

  2. Cathe 1 year ago

    I can’t get beyond the poop eating employees. Weird Charlie, really weird…and as for the melon, urgh.

    It’s a brilliant painting but such a weird bug.

    • Author

      Haha! 😊Yeah…sometimes I just say whatever pops into my head and well…that happens. Thanks, Cathe! 😃💕Glad you liked the doodlewash!!

  3. Jacob 1 year ago

    Oh my… I don’t even know where to begin with this one, Charlie, but it’s a spectacular doodlewash! It made me sit up on seeing it – bewilderment and wonder in equal measure. 😉 Those colours are intense!

    • Author

      Thanks Jacob!! I love these colorful creatures, but they are super weird. Nature plays some strange tricks and has quite a sense of humor! But I love color, so this thing just had to be doodlewashed!! Hehe

  4. Kari 1 year ago

    Very cool! They do look like cicadas! It’s amazing how they can form “friendships” with other creatures! I love the colors you used.. And yes, I’ll be thinking about them when I have honeydews.. Lol’❤️😜

  5. Susan Feniak 1 year ago

    Interesting, that just confirms why I wash any melon no matter what kind or where from. Great stuff Charlie! 🙂

    • Author

      Thanks Susan!! 😃💕 Glad you liked this one! And lol… Yeah…I really really wish they didn’t call it that! Ewwww!!

  6. Jill Kuhn 1 year ago

    Great colors! Thanks for making me laugh! 🙂 I will never see a honeydew melon the same way….haha!

  7. memadtwo 1 year ago

    It’s an ant pet! I love it. And the name is as good as the drawing! (K)

  8. Teresa Robeson 1 year ago

    Eating their employers’ poop…hahaha! Treehoppers are funky. We don’t see them too often but it’s probably a good thing since they can damage plants. Love your doodlewash of this bugger! 😄💙 You make things seem iridescent!

    • Author

      Thanks Teresa!! 😃💕 Glad you liked this…the colors were fun to do on this one. I love iridescence! And yeah…this is writing when you don’t have an editor external or internal! 😊haha

      • Teresa Robeson 1 year ago

        LOL! Well, your “speaking your mind” is far more endearing than a certain presidential candidate’s “speaking his mind” that’s for sure! x

      • Author

        Yeah… it helps to have a brain when you do it. 😉

      • Teresa Robeson 1 year ago

        Seriously!

  9. Carmel Campbell 1 year ago

    What a strange little guy. Darn … I love melon!

    • Author

      Haha…sorry to put these thoughts in your head Carmel…melons are still totally fine to consume!! Just an unfortunate naming for bug poop. Lol😉👍🏻

  10. Teri C 1 year ago

    Yup, weird. And beautifully colored.

  11. This is a weird one, love the fact this little tree dweller has found its own protection, but also a way to live very cleanly, now that’s a way to control ants….or are the ants controlling it? Great doodlewash, love the colours.

    • Author

      Thanks Rebecca!! 😃💕Ohhhh good question!! I don’t know who’s really in charge…the treehopper or the ants. Guess, like married couples, it would all depend on which one you ask! Hehe

  12. debiriley 1 year ago

    wacky bug! wonderfully painted!!

  13. The Leaf Diary 1 year ago

    I love the way its legs seem to be just at the right angle and wrap around the metal thing it’s standing on so perfectly. Nicely done!

    • Author

      Thanks so much!! 😃💕 Sometimes those little legs creep me out to paint when I think of the real life version. Hehe…I don’t love bugs as much in person! Lol

      • The Leaf Diary 1 year ago

        yeah….me neither. But I can’t help thinking from an aesthetic point of view, those little creatures can be so pretty. I only recently started looking into it too for future art projects and I never stop being amazed at the variety of colors they carry on them. This said, I wouldn’t want one 🙂

      • Author

        hehe… I agree! I’m good with just looking at them!

  14. jmnowak 1 year ago

    Gee, I thought it was a fish gone wrong and that you’d made it all up in your fantasy brain! LOL. Love the iridescence…well done!

  15. itsmyhusbandandme 1 year ago

    Well it is a face only a mother could love! But still beautifully painted.
    Jean-Paul

  16. LOL and beautifully done! Love the EYES! Terrific perspective in this too. Wonderful colors. Score! 😀

    • Author

      Thanks Laura!! 😃💜Bug eyes are kind of fun to paint! Lol I remember back when I doodlewashed a fly that the eyes are my fave even on bugs. But I don’t like them in person!! Lol

      • I remember that fly!!! Yes! LOL You know the locusts that come every 17 years? This creature reminds me of those. lol.

      • Author

        They’d be fun to doodlewash as well! It’s such much less gross as a painting! hehe

  17. I love the tail thing and the small wings! I want one!

  18. Curious to the Max 1 year ago

    Some like it hot
    some like it cold
    some like it in the pot
    nine days old

    Now here’s the scoop
    ants don’t care
    they’ll eat it anywhere
    yummy Thorn Bug poop

    poop poop de do

  19. Tom Merriman 1 year ago

    I’ve never seen or heard of this one, Charlie… nor the cicada! I like learning new things. Thank you!

  20. […] did Charlie get those brilliant colors in his paintings of the Umbonia Spinosa and the Peacock Mantis Shrimp? Look no further than M. Graham watercolor paints.  These highly […]

  21. komi 1 month ago

    these are very cool animals you should see the colors it is beuitiful make more more of this fantastic brilliant animal

  22. Joe Domeier 1 month ago

    You capture the pearlescent colors so well in this painting Charlie! Ant’s have “ranched” many a bug. They actually squeeze aphids for their milk. Got Milk! (imagine an ant with a milk stache!)

    • Author

      Hey there Joe! Thanks so much! 😃 Lol… Oh my… now I just want to illustrate an ant with a milk stache! Lol Too funny… and I weirdly talked about aphids in my most recent post and how they sneak into our food. It’s lunch time hear and I’m suddenly less hungry. 😳

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