Making sense of Fulgoroidea
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Species F. Laternaria
The Wild Wonderful World of Fulgoromorpha
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The fulgorid insect Fulgora laternaria, is a planthopper known by a large variety of common names, among them lantern fly, peanut bug, peanut-headed lanternfly, alligator bug, machaca, chicharra-machacuy, cocoposa & jequitiranaboia . This species inhabits tropical forests in Mexico, Central America and South America.
The peanut-head can't bite. Its mouth is like a straw, so all it can do is suck juices from plants. That's why it needs a lot fancy defenses to scare away predators, like it's strange head.
Fulgora laternaria can reach a length of 85-90 millimetres, with a wingspan up to 100-150 millimetres. It has yellow-brown tones, mottled with black and white patterned marks and a waxy head, thorax and abdomen region.This insect has a protuberance at its head as long as 10-15 millimetres, looking like a peanut and showing false eyes to resemble that of a lizard or a serpent. When attacked, it protects itself by displaying large, yellow, fake eyes on its hind wings to frighten the aggressor, and releases a foul-smelling substance. Adults can be found from June to December. They feed on the sap of plants, mainly from some trees as Hymenaea courbaril, Simarouba amara and Zanthoxylum species.
These organisms are phloem-feeders, sucking plant sap from their host plant. The tubular articulated rostrum is specially evolved for the suction of sap.
It will generally remain camouflaged on a tree trunk during the day. Their body is positioned ina vertical manner where its head with the great anterior protuberance is elevated at an angle from the substratum of the tree. This is the resting bug position.
It will knock its head on a hollow tree to create vibrations for mates. It will lay its eggs on the Hymenaea courbaril or quapinol tree, and coat them in a waxy substance for protection.