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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51 thoughts on “The Umbonia Spinosa

  1. 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!

  2. 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’❤️😜

  3. 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!

      1. 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 🙂

  4. 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!)

    1. 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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