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Rooster-tail Cicada (fulgorid planthopper)
Have you ever been in the fishing department of a sporting goods store looking at all those colorful lures and said to yourself, “What are these lures supposed to be mimicking? There is nothing in nature that really looks like that.” Well, now you know that there actually is! Introducing the Rooster-Tail Cicada. Well truthfully, I don’t really know that this is it’s common name, as I have not been able to find any reliable consensus for what it’s common name actually is. There is a lot of disagreement over whether it is even a Cicada at all.
When I first saw it, my reaction was; “That looks like a Fishing Lure!” The tail reminded me of a rooster’s tail, so I named it, “The Little Rooster”. Imagine my surprise when I did a google search for it and the majority of the results I found called it the, “Rooster-tail Cicada”. I was like, “Yep, that’s a pretty good name for it.” So that is what I am sticking with. LOL!
According to the research I have found, the Rooster-tail Cicada (fulgorid planthopper) is a true bug. It uses a tube like straw called a “proboscis” to suck liquid (phloem) out of the plants it feeds upon. The fulgorid planthopper has a symbiotic relationship with other insects. Once it has extracted all the nutrients from the phloem, it then secretes out a sweet honeydew like substance. Ants and other insects feed upon this sweet substance. Because of this, other insects will defend the Rooster Tail Cicada from predators and even help it.
We know very little about the Rooster-tail Cicada
The fancy white tail of the Rooster-tail Cicada, is made out of wax. What is not known, is why it produces it. Hypothesis for why it does this are as plentiful and varied as the common names are for this bug. Everyone has an opinion, but no one really knows why. It could be for mating thing to attract a mate. It could be some sort of defense mechanism. Whatever the true reason for it is, it is certainly an amazing feature of this fascinating bug.
Truth is, search as I might, I could not find a lot of conclusive information about the Rooster-tail Cicada (Fulgorid planthopper). There are few pictures online of it. These pictures are from different parts of the Amazon. They range from Peru to Bolivia, to North Central Brazil (My photo). Although not common in North Central Brazil where I lived, I did see a few of them over the years that I lived there. They seem to be easier to find in the at the beginning of the dry season in the months of November and December. If you are ever in the Amazon, be sure to keep an out out for this neat little bug.
Pictures captured with a Sony Digital Camera
For more information about the Fulgorid planthopper and other amazing tropical insects, check out these resources below.
Amazon Insects – A Photo Guide
Insects and Other Arthropods of Tropical America
30 Million Different Insects in the Rainforest