Sighted at McCrory: Dazzling colors in a tight package

Photo: Nita S. Dewi

We saw this little critter with dazzling colors at McCrory last week. I’m not a specialist in cicadelids but I think it’s a red-banded leafhopper, a common insect among trees around here. If it is indeed a red-banded leafhopper, it has the ability to transmit Xylella fastidiosa, a phytopathogenic bacteria causing Pierce’s Disease or leaf scorch on elms and oaks. I just can’t get over its dazzling colors. The run-of-the-mill hypothesis for adaptive advantage of having such brilliant combination of body colors is that it signals bad taste or down-right poison to any potential predators out there. Could this be the case here? Judging by my limited knowledge of leafhoppers, they are not necessarily poisonous or bad tasting to birds or other predators. If so, what drove the evolution of beautiful green-red stripes seemingly airbrushed on the critter’s side?

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