One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there,

Nutmeg says to tell all of you human readers sorry we’ve been busy this week. I myself–Hickory Squirrel, here!–am here with a little Sunday mystery:

Mystery #128

Know what this is?

Give me your guesses!


Hey! We had guesses today–leafhopper and treehopper. I know Nutmeg always called them leafhoppers when we saw them while out leaping branch-to-branch or while digging acorns. They are common, if you are poking around plants. But when I went to look up a few fun facts about this bug, I discovered its real name is ‘planthopper’.

Funny thing is, there are other little bugs, with long bodies–in a variety of colors, some even striped–that are called leafhoppers. But they don’t look like leaves and this one does! These are Candy-striped Leafhoppers.

Candy-sriped Leafhoppers mating

Ms. Flora kindly stepped in: “It’s a matter of common names, just like for plants.” Her tail twitches. “We–both squirrels and humans–call them what the  look like. Sometimes that varies for different regions of the country. Scientists will only use the scientific name so they don’t get mixed up, just like I do for flowers.

So those guesses are right, folks. One thing I did learn is they all hop! While  these insects can fly, hoping moves them quickly from leaf to leaf but it risks drawing attention. Most planthopper walk slowly, and since they look like a leaf, avoid notice. We have seen them scuttle around the other side of a stem to hide instead of hopping away. That’s cool, but here’s the bad thing: Planthoppers tend to transmit diseases from plant to plant. We couldn’t find out why but think is because they sip the juices from plant stems and carry the disease along to the next stem.

Well, I ended up with a lot to say about a bug that I didn’t even know the correct name of! Thanks for visiting and commenting today!


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