PHASMIDS STUDIES VOLUME 17
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Species D. Hardwickii
Aetalionidae are a family of plant-hoppers or tree-hoppers in the superfamily Membracoidea. Aetalionidae are somewhat like Membracidae in that they have one to three rows of short spines on the hind tibia but differ in having the front femur fused to the trochanter and the scutellum is completely exposed. The females have finger-like protrusions on the genital capsule. The family is mostly Neotropical. The subfamily Biturritiinae is Neotropical while the subfamily Aetalioninae has a Neotropical genus Aetalion and the sole Old World representative genus Darthula with a single species Darthula hardwickii (which is eaten in parts of China and India).
They form aggregations on the branches of trees where they produce honeydew and are associated with ants and stingless bees. Aetalionid treehoppers are also known for their maternal care with females standing guard over their eggs.
When disturbed, species like Darthula hardwickii are known to raise their tails in a threatening posture.
The family Aetalionidae is primarily Neotropical, but the subfamily Aetalioninae includes the New World genus Aetalion recorded from the Nearctic (Arizona and Florida) and Neotropical regions, and the Old World genus Darthula of the Indomalayan region. All members of the second aetalionid subfamily, Biturritiinae, occur only in the Neotropical region.