Brownish? Check. Pale veins? Check. ‘The vertex has two streaks at the anterior edge which may join in the middle’? (You can’t really see this in my photos – I had to enlarge them to find them. Also, if, like me, you aren’t familiar with the anatomy of a leafhopper, the British Bugs website has an illustrated page of bug bits.) Check. ‘And there is an orange-brown transverse band behind this’? Check. ‘The anterior of the pronotum has variably dark markings’? Check.
Six checks is a winner! This little leafhopper, a new find for me, is Speudotettix subfusculus. Look for it on trees, especially Oak trees.
This new-to-me leafhopper, from Saturday’s woodland wander, has now been confirmed by the national recorder as Arboridia ribauti. When I checked the Aderyn database, I found there have been only two previous Welsh records, both in the Brecon Beacons. It’s amazing what a little leaf turning can turn up!
Given my frequent recent posts, you might have been forgiven for thinking that I would choose leafmines for the letter L, but no. Leafhoppers, more formally known as the Cicadellidae, are another family of insects I sometimes dabble in but am determined to look more closely at in 2022 as there are so many species lurking under leaves that I have yet to discover. Back in July, I blogged about the first new species I was able to add to my list for 2021, Eupterycyba jucunda.
And, more recently, on 28 November, I found another, Linnavuoriana sexmaculata. Once again, this was found by turning over leaves, in this case one of the Salix genus – willows, sallows, osiers, as we more commonly call them. Though some species of leafhopper can be tricky to identify, both its host plant and the bug’s markings (sexmaculata means six-spotted) made this one a little easier.
I just happened to be examining the leaves of a local Italian alder tree on Saturday (looking for signs of the Crypturaphis grassii aphids I found on this tree last December) when I spotted first one, then another, then several more leafhoppers, all with quite distinctive markings so, of course, I took photos. When I later checked the British Bugs website, I was able to identify them as Eupterycyba jucunda, a new species for me.
The website notes that this species is ‘found predominantly on alder in England and Wales, as far north as Lancashire’, and that the adults can be seen between July and October. Looking at the photos on the website, I think the small black-and-white objects I also saw (photos below) are actually the empty exuvia of Eupterycyba jucunda nymphs. Fascinating!
These are some of the highlights of my year in insects:
I found my First hoverfly larva (and I’ve since found another, though not been able to identify either) …
… and my first examples of the hoverfly species Helophilus trivittatus.
And, very recently, my first Italian Alder aphids, which I’ve since found on another Italian Alder tree on the other side of town.
Here’s one I haven’t blogged – it’s a leafhopper, Cicadella viridis, which I saw for the first time during one of the two times this year that I actually caught a train to venture out of my local walking area (this was immediately after our first lockdown ended, when I dared to make two local train journeys – not been on a train or bus since).
I made my annual visit to the Rhododendron bushes in one particular area of Cardiff’s Bute Park yesterday to check on these little critters, the Rhododendron leafhoppers, Graphocephala fennahi, and I’m delighted to report that the colony appears to be thriving. (You can read more about them in a previous blog here.)
I took myself on a meander along the south Wales coastal path from Penarth to Lavernock and back again today. The weather was still quite gloomy, as it’s been for several days now, but at least there was no rain. I often have this trail to myself but not today – every man, woman, child and their dog had obviously decided this was a good way to walk off their festive feasting. As I had made it today’s mission to look for the little, I got a lot of strange looks, and I heard one or two ‘What was that lady doing?’ comments after people had passed. To their credit a couple of folk were brave enough to ask me directly but their eyes glazed over when I began to extol the beauty of the many leafhoppers I was seeing.
I saw lots of lovely things but thought, for the purposes of this blog, I’d focus on the Bramble (Rubus fruticosus agg.), which grows in abundance along the coastal path and, with this year’s mild weather, is still very green, and even flowering in places.
I haven’t yet had a chance to identify my finds but I think I have photos of three different species of leafhoppers (though it’s possible number 3 is just a yellower version of number 1). I was amazed to see so many of these little critters still flying and hopping around the bushes, though the winter has been very mild here so far and I think some species over-winter as adults.
I also spotted a couple of other tiny mini-beasties lurking amongst the leaves. I’m not sure what these are.
Lots of the leaves had leaf mines, though their makers have now left the leaves. I think most of the mines I saw would have been made by the larvae of Stigmella aurella, a moth.
And my last find was on an old, decaying Bramble branch, where these beautiful little bonnet fungi were growing. Though you can’t see the details in this photo, the caps were striated and the stems grooved so I think these might be Grooved bonnets (Mycena polygramma).
I enjoyed a delightful long meander in Cardiff’s magnificent Bute Park yesterday (there will be a blog, probably tomorrow, once I finish going through my photos) and, in the course of that, I made sure to visit one particular small patch of rhododendron. The reason is these little critters, Rhododendron leafhoppers (Graphocephala fennahi).
If you’ve been here a while, you may remember I blogged about them back in August 2016, when I was first introduced to them. I wasn’t sure they’d still be around this late in the year, and there certainly weren’t very many of them, but two or three were hopping from leaf to leaf whenever I tried to get near enough for photos. I’ve since read, on the British Bugs website, that they can be seen as late as November, feeding on rhododendron sap and laying their eggs in the leaf buds.
Leafhoppers come in a splendid variety of colours hence this 2019 diary note: *Note to self: make more of an effort to look for leafhoppers next spring/summer*.
I’ve been leaf-turning again and one thing you’re almost sure to find if you turn over enough leaves is a leafhopper. These are two recent finds, their identities now confirmed by the national recorder. Both are small – around 4mm long when adults, and both can be seen from around June to September.
These little guys have a preference for oak trees but can also be found on other deciduous tree, and are common throughout Britain.
E. loewii prefers Sycamore trees and, occasionally, Field maple, and lives in most English counties and in south Wales, but hasn’t yet crossed the Brecon Beacons.
The two photos below are interesting, I think. The one on the left shows E. loweii in its larval form and the photo on the right shows an empty skin, after the larva has gone through one of several moults between its emergence from an egg until the time it’s ready to pupate.