Oak treehopper

Treehoppers, as you might expect, live in trees and drink sap from branches. Most of them are uniquely camouflaged to avoid predators.

Sunday night, I spent a few hours out at Limestone Park with my mercury vapor bulb and sheet trying to attract moths. I did get many interesting moth species, but one of the more fascinating insects to show up was this treehopper.

Treehoppers, as you might expect, live in trees and drink sap from branches. Most of them are uniquely camouflaged to avoid predators. This treehopper probably evolved to look like a thorn or a bump on a twig.

I encountered it surrounded by black oaks. They do have wings, and this one danced around on my sheet for some time before it calmed down enough for me to coax it on to a stick for a picture.

So far, I haven’t been able to identify the exact species but INaturalist suggests it is in the genus telamona. I can be sure it is in the family membracidae (typical treehoppers) for which there are 29 species in Illinois having been observed.

I love encountering new creatures in places I visit often. So much diversity just outside your door that you never knew existed. I have walked under these trees hundreds of times and never saw this species once.

This weekend, I’ll be doing more sheet lighting as part of a nighttime bioblitz at the Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge in Putnam County. That event also is conducting snake and bat surveys, as well as an owl walk. I will report back on anything unique I come across.

Reach Trevor Edmonson at trevoredmonson@gmail.com.

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