Auchenorrhyncha, a concert in the jungle and then some
The Auchenorrhyncha (former synonym: Cicadinea) is a suborder of the Hemiptera order of insects, which contains most of the familiar members of what was called the Homoptera – groups such as cicadas, leafhoppers, treehoppers, planthoppers, and froghoppers (That's a lot of hoppers.!). In simplier words, these guys are the family of the famous rock stars of the Insecta class known as cicadas and their closest, but not as big, relatives.
Inside this order are two infraorders:
- The Cicadomorpha which contains the cicadas, leafhoppers, treehoppers, and spittlebugs/froghoppers. With approximately 35,000 species described and distributed worldwide, all members of this group are plant-feeders, and many produce either audible sounds or substrate vibrations as a form of communication. Such calls range from vibrations inaudible to humans, to the calls of many species of cicadas that can be heard for hundreds of metres, at least. In season, they produce the most characteristic and ubiquitous noise of the bush (Remember I said cicadas are rock stars? that's because they perform the loudest concert in the forests). They have three superfamilies: Cercopoidea (froghoppers), Cicadoidea (cicadas), Membracoidea (treehoppers and leafhoppers).
- The Fulgoromorpha or planthoppers. The name comes from their remarkable resemblance to leaves and other plants of their environment and from the fact that they often "hop" for quick transportation in a similar way to that of grasshoppers. However, planthoppers generally walk very slowly so as not to attract attention. Also distributed worldwide, all members of this group are plant-feeders, though surprisingly few are considered pests. The infraorder contains only a single superfamily, Fulgoroidea. Fulgoroids are most reliably distinguished from the other members of the classical "Homoptera" by certain features; the bifurcate ("Y"-shaped) anal vein in the forewing, and the thickened, three-segmented antennae.
As read above, each infraorder have superfamilies and then families below them. To me was not easy to identify under which family each of my subjects fitted but I did my best to identify them below.
Treehopper, thorn bug, member of the Membracidae family
Treehoppers and thorn bugs are members of the family Membracidae, a group of insects related to the cicadas and the leafhoppers. About 3,200 species of treehoppers are known.They are found on all continents except Antarctica; only three species are known from Europe. Thorn bugs are best known for their enlarged and ornate pronotum, which most often resembles thorns, apparently to aid camouflage. In some species, the pronotum is a horn-like extension, but can form more bizarre shapes.
Leafhopper nymph, member of the Cicadellidae family
Leafhoppers, members of the Cicadellidae family
The Ciadellidae family is distributed all over the world, and constitutes the second-largest hemipteran family, with at least 20,000 described species. They undergo direct development from nymph to adult without a pupal stage. While many leafhoppers are drab little insects, the adults and nymphs of some species are quite colorful. Leafhoppers have piercing-sucking mouthparts, enabling them to feed on plant sap. A leafhoppers' diet commonly consists of sap from a wide and diverse range of plants, but some are more host-specific. Leafhoppers mainly are herbivores, but some are known to eat smaller insects, such as aphids, on occasion.
The froghoppers, or the superfamily Cercopoidea are capable of jumping many times their height and length, giving the group their common name, these families are best known for the nymph stage, which produces a cover of frothed-up plant sap resembling spit; the nymphs are therefore commonly known as spittlebugs.
Cicadas live underground as nymphs for most of their lives, at depths ranging from about 30 centimetres (0.98 ft) down to 2.5 metres (8.2 ft). The nymphs feed on xylem sap from roots and have strong front legs for digging. In the final nymphal instar, they construct an exit tunnel to the surface and emerge. They then molt (shed their skins) on a nearby plant for the last time and emerge as adults. The exuvia, or abandoned exoskeleton, remains, still clinging to the bark of trees.
Cicadas are in the superfamily Cicadoidea. Their eyes are prominent, though not especially large. The wings are well-developed, with conspicuous veins; in some species the wing membranes are wholly transparent, whereas in many others the proximal parts of the wings are clouded or opaque and some have no significantly clear areas on their wings at all. About 2,500 species of cicada have been described, and many remain to be described. Cicadas live in temperate-to-tropical climates where they are among the most-widely recognized of all insects, mainly due to their large size and unique sound.
Members of the family Dictyopharidae
The Dictyopharidae family comprises nearly 760 species. Like all other fulgoroids, they have the antennae arising on the side of the head below the compound eye (not between the eyes as in the Cicadoidea). Many species have an elongated frons.
Member of the family Nogodinidae, they have membranous wings with delicate venation
Members of the family Cixiidae,
Cixiid species are typically comparatively small (body size less than a centimeter) and usually inconspicuous. Nymphs live underground, feeding on roots. Adults feed on herbs, shrubs and/or trees.