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
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Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. 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!