Plant Hopper, Groundnut Hopper Hilda patruelis
Suborder: Auchenorrhyncha. Infraorder: Fulgoromorpha. Superfamily: Fulgoroidea. Family Tettigometridae
Kruger National ParkDescription
An adult hopper is a polyphagous sucking bug measuring from 3 to 5 mm in length. It is squat with a very broad head, brown or green prothorax and olive, or green-brown wings with three dark patches highlighted by a short silvery white stripe. Nymphs resemble the adults but without fully developed wings.Distribution
Found in Africa south of the Sahara, by far the most common of the three species of tettigometrid recorded from southern Africa.Biology
It is found on a wide range of host plants where it is considered a minor pest (cashew nuts, pigeonpea, citrus, soybean, maize, potato, okra, sunflower, cowpea, Phaseolus bean, and mung bean). However, it can be of economic importance to groundnuts and wild fig trees.
It has an obligate symbiotic relationship with several species of ants which protect it from predators and maintain the tunnels around the root zone in return for the sugary liquid, honeydew, excreted by the hopper. It has been found that on fig trees, the attendant ants drive off the parasitic wasps that parasitize the larvae of the fig wasp pollinator and thus benefit the tree by increasing pollinator production. They also increase plant fitness by driving off seed predators as well.
The pugnaceous ants Anoplolepis custodiens
and Pheidole megacephala
are two of the most commonly seen species tending H. patruelis.
The ant seen here is Pheidole megacephala