Friday 21 October 2011

Flatid Leaf Bug, Phromnia rosea

Image: Frank.Vassen via Flickr
Image: Wikipedia
Flatid Leaf Bug. This is a seriously unsatisfactory common name. It's as if no-one actually saw this gorgeous little beast! It's even a member of the family Flatidae, which means a whole host of relatives could have exactly the same name whilst being brown, white, green or anything else.

But this Flatid Leaf Bug isn't anything else. It's a beautiful pink-red colour! Its wings are so big that they cover the entire body and make the whole creature look like a contribution to one of those amazing Autumnal scenes.

In reality, it appears these insects come only from Madagascar. I don't think they get Autumn over there.

Image: Frank.Vassen via Flickr
P. rosea is a kind of Planthopper and closely related to Treehoppers and other true bugs. Being a proper bug, it has piercing mouthparts which, as is most often the case with true bugs, it uses to suck sap out of plants.

They seem to be rather gregarious; you don't get one little droplet of this extraordinary red colour, you get a whole mass of it. Tree branches end up looking like someone's given them one of those Hawaiian flower garlands.

That's if it's the adults, anyway.

Young P. rosea look a little different from their parents. 'Ugly Duckling' different. They don't have the colours or wings of their parents, so they go with a waxy substance released from their abdomen instead.

Nymphs and an adult
Image: christophandre via Flickr
This stuff makes them look fluffy, furry and crazy-haired. It's like a tiny peacock gone horribly wrong. Or maybe this is what all peacocks look like first thing in the morning, before they've managed to slap on the old warpaint and get the straighteners out.

For the young bugs this stuff offers protection against birds. I'm sure it tastes pretty bad, but I can't help but think that birds don't like the sheer appearance of it any more than we do.

Pretty much any food that has tendrils of curly white stuff sticking out of it is probably best left uneaten.


Crunchy said...

If you squish one, does it become a de-flatid leaf bug? They do kind of look like whoopie cushions.

Joseph JG said...

De-flatid! Goodness me.

Unknown said...

What a beautiful creation.

Joseph JG said...

Mmm hmm!

Unknown said...

Actually the young bugs taste good! Very sweet. Madagascar kids eat them like candy