For many years I have enjoyed finding an abundant supply of these Treehoppers on the Blue Jay Barrens Redbud trees. When I was young, finding Treehoppers was a real treat. Being experts at looking like a part of the plant upon which they are resting, they never quite looked to me like real animals. If they chose to move, it looked like the plant was rearranging its parts.
Most have the general shape of thorns and make a normally smooth stem appear untouchable. Knowing that the plant doesn’t produce thorns is what tips most people off to the presence of Treehoppers. Redbuds have smooth stems, so the thorns can’t be real.
Treehoppers pierce the stem with their mouth parts and feed on the sap. Since their food comes to them, they don’t have to move around and they benefit by being mistaken for a stationary plant part. Their numbers vary from tree to tree, but I’ve never seen so many as to cause damage to the tree.
A couple of years ago I decided to learn the name of this interesting insect. I soon found it referred to as the Two-marked Treehopper, Enchenopa binotata. Further reading indicated that the scientific name actually referred to a complex of species. That didn’t make any sense to me. It’s either a species or its not. After more research, I gathered that there were several similarly appearing Treehoppers that were being assigned as different species because they were dependant upon different host plants. This and several others had not yet been formally described and named. So there’s no new name for me to learn and I can just keep referring to them as the Redbud Treehoppers.
Named or not, I find them interesting. I’ve never seen them on any plant other than Redbud, so I must not have any of the other unnamed species. I’ll keep watching them and maybe one day I can go out and announce that they are no longer nameless.