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Order Homoptera: The Leafhoppers

Order Homoptera: The Leafhoppers

Homoptera, known as Hoppers, is a very large and diverse order. They are found all over the world; there are few habitats without a Homopterans adapted to living there. There are 80,000 described species in 37 families. The order is divided into three suborders: Geocorizae (terrestrial bugs), Amphibicorizae (semiaquatic or shore-inhabiting bugs), and Hydrocorizae (aquatic bugs). Homopterans are also important in agriculture, known to cause direct damage to plants by herbivory and indirectly by transporting diseases. Predatory Hoppers have also been used in agricultural systems to control pests.

Body Shape

Called the hoppers, insects in the order homopterans have a particular structure of the front wings from which the order gets its name. The base portion of the front wing is thickened and leathery. The top portion is membranous (this type of wing is called hemelytron, or hemelytran if single). Hind wings are completely membranous and shorter than the front wings. And the wings at rest are held over the abdomen with membranous tips overlapping.

Identification

There is much diversity in the morphology of the order. All Homopterans have large compound eyes. The second pair of eyes is ocelli. The antennae have four or five segments. Mouthparts have been adapted for piercing or sucking. The mandibles are modified as needle-like stylets. Each stylet has two canals: one for delivering saliva and one for sucking fluid.

Life Cycle

Homopterans undergo incomplete metamorphosis. The egg is inserted into plant tissues, bark, or soil. The egg is usually a simple elliptical shape; however, some families have unusually-shaped eggs. Phloem-feeding Homopterans excrete a sugary, energy-rich substance known as “honeydew”. Ants “herd” the aphids and provide protection for them in return for the honeydew. The ants may also build soil shelters over aphid colonies and store Homopterans eggs until they hatch. Phloem-feeding Homopterans excrete a sugary, energy-rich substance known as “honeydew”. Ants “herd” the aphids and provide protection for them in return for the honeydew. The ants may also build soil shelters over aphid colonies and store Homopterans eggs until they hatch!

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