Tips for treehoppers (Membracids) and Leafhoppers
Treehoppers come in a huge diversity of forms and colours. They form symbiotic relationships with ants, display mimicry and are a fascinating group. They are hemipterans and so have a proboscis which they use to suck sap from their host plants on which they can be found most of the time. Once you have identified a certain treehopper to a certain plant, then upon finding a similar plant in the future study the leaves and stem and it is likely you will find the same treehoppers since they are commonly species specific in their choice of host plant. They are slow moving, typically standing stock still, making them quite easy subjects to photograph. Some species startle like Oeda inflata seen below, but most will simply slowly move up or down on the stem. Take your time knowing that they aren’t going anywhere fast.
They are quite small so typically a good portrait will require at least a 1:1 magnification based on the species. Try to get low and look up to show the facial features.
- Alchisme sp. from Manu national park, Peru.
Their small size doesn’t mean that you can neglect composition though. Look at the environment that they are in. Are they sitting on petals or leaves that have a striking colour, pattern or shape? Here the lines of the leaf and that of the treehopper pronotum are in curved opposites which makes the lines and image intriguing to my eye.
- Treehopper with leaf. Kurupukari crossing, Guyana.
- Oeda inflata treehopper. With beautiful venation on the pronotum which extends like a veil over the back, this is one of the most bizarre treehoppers that I have seen. It is also quite flighty. It doesn’t care to sit on a stem and feed but prefers leaves from what I have seen and they readily take off when feeling threatened. Found during a night hike at the Kurupukari crossing, Guyana.