Posted by: Ross Gardner | August 25, 2016

Strangers in the Night

With a proper barmy night in the offing it was off to Wat Tyler Country Park with moth trap.  The moths were good, with such evocatively named species as Chinese Character, Flame Shoulder and Iron Prominent all paying a visit.  It was however, another that stole the show.

Along with the moths a host of other insects were attracted to the light, not least the countless small flies, caddis flies and beetles that swarmed to the trap.  True bugs are also taken in by the light and among them as strange a looking beast as you would ever see.  The so-called Eared Leafhopper – Ledra aurita is a magnificently bizarre-looking little creature.  It is those member of its family occurring in Europe.

As true bugs go it is a fair size, measuring nearly 2cm in length, cryptically coloured in greenish-grey and with a pair of curious-looking lobes on what at first glance might look like its head, but is in fact its thorax (its pronotum, to be precise).  As a consumer of lichen growing on trees it is endowed with splendid camouflage.  What those lobes are in aid of,  I’ve not been able been able to find out; perhaps they are a camouflage aid among those more foliose, vaguely leafy-looking lichens commonly found growing on tree bark.  Whatever purpose they serve, they contribute to the decidedly unique charms of this singular looking insect.

Eared Leafhopper (Ledra aurita.  Copyright 2016 Ross Gardner.

Eared Leafhopper (Ledra aurita). Copyright 2016 Ross Gardner.

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