Pharyngula

This leafhopper is a myrmecomorph – it has sprouted lumpy dark extensions of its carapace that resemble an ant. It spends its whole life living in a costume!

Cyphonia clavata: The treehopper Cyphonia clavata with a mimic of an ant (top right) extending from its pronotum (photos: M. Stensmyr). The ‘ant’ presumably serves to deter predators as the treehopper struts about its habitat (lower left, photo: S. Sanowar). This peculiar-looking insect has also been depicted historically several times, as exemplified here by illustrations by (from top to bottom) Caspar Stoll (1788), Jean Antoine Coquebert de Montbret (1799–1804) and William W. Fowler (1900).

Cyphonia clavata: The treehopper Cyphonia clavata with a mimic of an ant (top right) extending from its pronotum (photos: M. Stensmyr). The ‘ant’ presumably serves to deter predators as the treehopper struts about its habitat (lower left, photo: S. Sanowar). This peculiar-looking insect has also been depicted historically several times, as exemplified here by illustrations by (from top to bottom) Caspar Stoll (1788), Jean Antoine Coquebert de Montbret (1799–1804) and William W. Fowler (1900).

Comments

  1. #1 GregH
    April 20, 2015

    And here I am, sitting at my desk pretending to work. Funny old world, isn’t it?

  2. #2 Petser
    www.petsermakine.com
    April 20, 2015

    In an interesting and repulsive so

  3. #3 Bianca Olivier 13157192
    April 20, 2015

    The way that the treetopper uses the disguise of an ant is incredible. Nature has some truelly extraordinary ways and I cannot thank authors of blogs like this enough for sharing knowledge. It is such a powerful tool for gaining insight into the workings of the world.

  4. #4 WWW
    Williamsburg, VA
    April 21, 2015

    I have some old clothes from the 70s that make me look, like, well, a guy from the 70s. Never been bothered by a predator either. Bell bottoms and wide lapels will deter almost anything apparently.

  5. #5 Leago
    Pretoria
    April 22, 2015

    the biological evolution of this specie is a milestone in all biological history, the fact that this insect is dimorphic by body plan innovation rather than modification of an existing part of the insect’s anatomy is mind blowing.
    however, i do need help understanding something; doesn’t this insect’s ability to change its phenotype undermine the model of biological evolution proposed by Charles Darwin?
    14215935

  6. #6 Mikaela Nicolau
    Pretoria
    April 22, 2015

    So it isn’t an ant, nor is it a fly? What is it classified as then?

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