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Treehopper (Membracis mexicana)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Treehopper

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Image Credit: Jorge Z. in Mexico
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Image Credit: Jorge Z. in Mexico
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Image Credit: Rushton B.
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Colorful and tiny Treehoppers can leap great distances between plants to escape predators.

Updated: 01/06/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Treehoppers come in a variety of colors. There are many genera and each has a pattern variation or region of dominance. A protrusion, or 'horn', at the top of the head mimics a thorn and helps conceal the insect from predators when resting among plants. Curved heads help mimic the shape of a leaf. The bright coloration seen in some species may be another form of defense, giving predators pause when considering an attack on an insect with such alarming colors.

A mighty leap is what gave this insect its name. This remarkable ability ushers them quickly out of danger. Warnings to others nearby are given by vibrating the abdomen on a stem or leaf. Adult Treehoppers can be found on their favorite plants, usually in the 'elbows', where a twig meets a branch. They feed on the liquid from a plant, siphoning off what they want from the tender parts. Multiple Treehoppers feeding on a young plant can weaken the plant to death, but infestations are uncommon.

Females lay eggs in the tip of a twig, pushing them into small slits for protection. Because the tip of a plant (called its apical meristem) is the site of continued linear growth, this tissue damage can kill the twig, though the Treehopper nymphs will have long abandoned it before then. Young treehoppers look very different from the adult form and may be mistaken for a different insect.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Jumping insect icon
Spiny / Spiky insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Membracidae
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          Genus: Membracis
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            Species: mexicana

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Membracis mexicana
Category: Cicada and Planthopper
Size (Adult; Length): 8mm to 12mm (0.31" to 0.47")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow; white
Descriptors: horn; bump; jump; small

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 8mm (0.3in) and 12mm (0.5in)
Lo: 8mm
Md: 10mm
Hi: 12mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Treehopper may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Treehopper. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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