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FLATIDAE / FLATID PLANTHOPPERS
Flatidae are a family of fulgoroid planthoppers. Flatidae is the 4th largest family of planthoppers, consisting of 299 genera and 1,446 species. The classification of Flatidae is currently incomplete and rather ambiguous. They are cosmopolitan in distribution and are distinguished from others in the superfamily by a combination of characters. Like all other planthoppers, they suck phloem sap of plants. Some species are known to communicate with vibrations through the plant stems. Communication may be with mates, or with ants that tend the nymphs, protecting them and gathering honeydew secretions. Adults of some species have brightly coloured forewings which are tougher and known as tegmina unlike the membranous hindwings which are used for flight. Although a few can be identified by their coloration, most species requires dissection and examination under a microscope with access to literature on already described species.
Flatids are most readily recognized by the presence of a submarginal vein, paralleling the wing margin, defining a series of marginal cells in the apical and leading portion of the front wings, and the presence of wax bearing pustules in the claval region.
There are two sub-families within the family. In the subfamily Flatinae, the body of adults is flattened laterally and the tegmina are tent-like. In the Flatoidinae, the body is not laterally compressed and the tegmina are not as tent-like and sometimes held horizontally. The wing venation is distinctive in that the veins in the anal region are nodose, and the costal area has numerous cross veins. The antennae are small and the first segment is collar-like and small. The second segment is longer and ends in a bulge and a flagellum arises from it. They have two ocelli. Nymphs have a tail of waxy filaments.
The jumping performance of three species of hemipterans from Australia and Europe belonging to the family Flatidae was analysed from images captured at a rate of 5000 s-1. The shape of a flatid was dominated by large triangular or wedge-shaped front wings, which, when folded, covered and extended above and behind the body to give a laterally compressed and possibly streamlined appearance.