The Way I See Things


Wild about hoppers

I had a busy day today. This morning I went to Stratford with R, to help him choose some new glasses frames - and of course, to have coffee and cake, and a walk by the river. In the event the river was a wash-out, because last week's tufties have moved on, and the light was too poor to make anything else look even slightly interesting. Then it began raining quite hard, so we had to cut our walk short and scuttle back to the car.

Back at home it had fined up, so I did some gardening (eeeurgh) with R, and then a little solo bug-hunting. Finally this evening I went to choir, which was a slightly scary experience because I'd missed the previous two rehearsals due to grandparenting duties, and in the meanwhile everyone else had learned a lot, which I had to try to catch up on in real time. We are singing some pretty fine Christmas pieces this season though, so it's no chore to have to work on them.

The hopper in my main image is a male Acericerus ribauti, a species I've posted a couple of times before. They're common in this garden, because they like to feed on maple, and we have more of that than we know what to do with. He's 5-6mm long, and the identification is confirmed by two features: on the underside of his face he has a dark bar with a pale midline stripe, which only goes as far as his ocelli; and his antennal palettes are only about an eighth of the length of the antennae as a whole.

I got mildly excited when I saw the specimen in the extras, because she was so obviously pink I thought she might be a species I hadn't photographed before, but it turned out that she's either another A. ribauti, or the closely related A. vittifrons - females of these two species being very hard to tell apart. I've included her for contrast with the male here, and also with the female I posted last week. Leafhoppers do show a surprising amount of variation in colour and pattern within species, but I suspect that this female is just not fully mature: last year I found this almost featureless leafhopper, which surprised me by developing colour and pattern over the course of the next few days.

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