“In All Things of Nature There is Something of the Marvelous” – Aristotle
I have always loved that quote as it states in simple terms why I find everything around me so fascinating. I marvel at spectacles such as the Snow Geese at Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge or the Bison in Yellowstone, but I can also spend hours walking around the garden looking at tiny things. Last week, this critter rode in from the garden on some basil leaves so I took a few moments to obsreve and photograph it.
A quick search on bugguide.net revealed it to be a common species of Treehopper, Entylia carinata. It has no official common name, although one writer dubbed it the Keeled Treehopper for its appearance and for the fact that its species name is Latin for keeled. I think it should be called the Bottle Opener Treehopper as it sure looks like something useful you should have on your key chain if it were a bit bigger (it is tiny, only about 5 mm long). They can be variable in color but the keeled notch is distinctive for this species.
Like most of its kind, they feed on plant juices and secrete honeydew (a nutritious waste product) that is sought after by ants and other insects. This species is often seen accompanied by ants and one researcher observed that the maturing of eggs and nymphs was much more successful when both the mother and attending ants were present; both acted to drive off potential predators. I found some really cool images online of a female with her eggs and nymphs (http://www.marylandbiodiversity.com/viewSpecies.php?species=6252). I will be out looking for those in the coming weeks.
So, wherever you are today, take a moment, go outside, and be amazed at the marvelous in nature.