Monday, September 6, 2010

Animal: Graphocephala coccinea

This is the candy-striped leafhopper, Graphocephala coccinea, on a Salvia elegans leaf. They're native to North America and Central America. They make a living by sucking plant sap and are therefore, technically, pests. They can even spread viruses from plant to plant, like aphids. So they're pretty unequivocally bad.

I don't squash them, though. For one thing, it's hard to do. Though you might think that the "hopper" part of "leafhopper" is an homage to Dennis Hopper or something -- and in a perfect world maybe it would be! -- it's actually because they jump, far, on very little provocation, so you have to be really quick. For another, it seems like having to wear turquoise and red together should be punishment enough.

Mostly, though, it's 'cause I think they're fascinating to look at. (I like Bridget Riley paintings too. Do a Google image search. I dare you.)

Which I'm aware that being decorative is not a good reason to let them run free to spread viruses, suck precious sap, and knock over liquor stores or whatever.

The leafhoppers, I mean.

Not Bridget Riley.

Though she might spread viruses too, I suppose: I mean, I don't know her. And she is an artist, and you know how they are.

Not that it would be okay to squash her if she did spread viruses, obviously!

Let's get away from the Bridget Riley thing. My point is that I find candy-striped leafhoppers (see? Even the name is adorable!) too ornamental to kill. I apologize to all the outdoor gardeners.


Anonymous said...

Wow, how beautiful. Who wouldn't want such a nice looking leafhopper in their backyard?

CelticRose said...

I wouldn't be able to squash him either. He just looks too pretty.

I like Bridget Riley's stuff. Op art fascinates me.

Liza said...

I took your dare, did a google image search, and now I'm dizzy.

Kenneth Moore said...

It gets much less problematic to squish when they end up on your indoor plants. Y'know. Inside the house. Although, I just had potato leafhoppers, and they are not as beautiful as the Bridget-Riley-liquor-store-knocking-over-virus-transmitting leafhoppers you have.

Thomas said...

They are strange little insects. I wonder why they ended up with that appearance?

A true story: I knew someone - as an 'experiment' - decided to plant a certain controversial herb, possibly the same kind that one might consume while looking at Bridget Riley's paintings. The plants grew nicely, weren't bothered noticeably by any pests, but one day while looking at them I saw, here and there resting on the leaves, candy-striped leaf hoppers. I went to touch one, and did. I actually gave it the equivalent of a good shove before it seemed to decide that jumping was in order. It struck me as cool, strange, yet quite appropriate. I couldn't have hurt it either.

mr_subjunctive said...

Kenneth Moore:

I have yet to have any indoors. No doubt that they would be more squishable if I found them on my plants in here, though even then, I would probably hesitate for a little while.


No clue how the appearance would work -- as far as I've read, they're not toxic or anything, so it wouldn't be warning coloration. And it's hard to imagine this working as camouflage for anybody, even on brightly-colored flowers, because what flowers are those colors? So I have no idea how to explain it. I'm sure someone has a theory.

Pat said...

Stripes break up the silhouette and they seem too small to bother eating.

It is really sweet-looking, I would have problems eliminating them, too.