Good vibrations: Umbelligerus perviensis

Treehoppers deserve our utmost respect: they are amazing, beautiful and harmless bugs. They contribute to biodiversity, are gregarious little creatures who play well with other beneficial species, and won’t attempt to invade your house, chew on your plant leaves, or sting you. They might, however, sing you a little song, if you listen closely.

 

CicadaJillha
Umbelligerus perviensis is one of over 3,200 species of treehoppers. This bug is related to the cicada, but sports rather large, ornamental head gear that resembles thorns or other shapes. 

The treehopper is friendly with ants, who feed on honeydew the bug produces while sucking tree sap, its main food source. The ants not only clean the treehoppers, but provide protection from predators, too. Treehoppers may also make friends with wasps and even geckos, with whom they communicate via small vibrations. The insect uses its muscles in the thorax and abdomen to shake its abdomen—the result is like the sound of a tiny tuning fork.

Click here to hear the sound of a vibrating treehopper

Sources

Good Vibrations Key to Insect Communication, Christopher Joyce and Bill McQuay
“Tuning the drum: the mechanical basis for frequency discrimination in a Mediterranean cicada,” Jérôme Sueur et al.  

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