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Wax-tailed planthopper, Utria National Park, Colombia On our 2nd day in Utria National Park, we crossed the river to have a morning hike in the forest there, after which we would return to Bahia Solano later in the day. After much waiting around for somebody to arrange a boat, we finally came ashore into an incredible forest. Humid, messy, at times a bit steep to hike, yet largely untouched.<br />
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The first interesting find we came across was this large very weird insect. We had no idea what it was, and considered it was perhaps infested with a fungus or parasite. <br />
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Nope, it&#039;s supposed to look like this. The wax-like tails are formed from its main food, plant juice, and serve as a defense to predators. The species is also described as having courtship behavior before mating. And one more interesting detail is that the orange appendage below its orange eye, is one of their antennae. Choco,Chocó,Colombia,Colombia Choco & Pacific region,Pterodictya reticularis,South America,Utria National Natural Park,Utría National Natural Park,Wax-tailed planthopper,World Click/tap to enlarge PromotedSpecies introCountry intro

Wax-tailed planthopper, Utria National Park, Colombia

On our 2nd day in Utria National Park, we crossed the river to have a morning hike in the forest there, after which we would return to Bahia Solano later in the day. After much waiting around for somebody to arrange a boat, we finally came ashore into an incredible forest. Humid, messy, at times a bit steep to hike, yet largely untouched.

The first interesting find we came across was this large very weird insect. We had no idea what it was, and considered it was perhaps infested with a fungus or parasite.

Nope, it's supposed to look like this. The wax-like tails are formed from its main food, plant juice, and serve as a defense to predators. The species is also described as having courtship behavior before mating. And one more interesting detail is that the orange appendage below its orange eye, is one of their antennae.

    comments (7)

  1. Love these guys! Posted 4 years ago
    1. So you're familiar with them? Posted 4 years ago
      1. Yes! I learned about them in grad school. I refer to them as "dreadlock butts". The waxy filaments are definitely an interesting solution to their problem, as you mentioned in your description! Since they are sap-suckers, they drink and excrete a ton of honeydew, which is super sticky and can grow mold. So, they convert the extra carbs from the plant sap into wax, thus producing long, feather-like filaments. The waxy filaments protect the planthopper's body from getting sticky and moldy. But, the waxy filaments are also defensive because they break off easily...So, a predator trying to eat a planthopper will be left with a pile of waxy fluff, but no meal as the planthopper escapes. The wax also seems to mimic fungus, which discourages predators that won't want to eat an "infected" corpse. So, these little critters use the disadvantage of ingesting too much plant sap to their advantage by creating wax filaments with several useful purposes! Pretty neat! Posted 4 years ago
        1. After the unforgettable "rainworm smoothie" once again you enrich my vocabulary. Dreadlock butt at work:


          Posted 4 years ago, modified 4 years ago
          1. Awesome :D Posted 4 years ago
  2. Amazing - who needs outer space aliens when you have things like this on planet earth? Posted 4 years ago, modified 4 years ago
    1. Definitely! Posted 4 years ago

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Pterodictya reticularis, the Wax-tailed planthopper, is a planthopper in the Pterodictya genus.

Similar species: True Bugs
Species identified by Ferdy Christant
View Ferdy Christant's profile

By Ferdy Christant

All rights reserved
Uploaded Mar 4, 2018. Captured Oct 23, 2017 08:12.
  • NIKON D850
  • f/10.0
  • 1/60s
  • ISO64
  • 105mm