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One lump or two?

October 21, 2014

DSCN1435Hemiptera is an order of insects characterised by having sucking mouthparts. Some species suck sap from plants. Others just suck the life out of each other. Insects of this group include gumtree hoppers and psyllids, featured in previous blogs.

The sap suckers try to extract protein from the sap. This is their food. However, the protein is in such small quantities that the insects have to suck up an enormous amount of sugary sap to meet their requirements. To do this they simply suck in the sap and remove the proteins while, at the same time, expelling the waste sugar from their anuses in the form of honeydew.


DSCN1440Recently I found hemipterans known as Wattle Plant Lice (Acizzia sp.) on a Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha). Probably the fourth and fifth instars of the lice are shown in both photos. The white packages dragged along by some of the instars are crystalline honeydew. It’s a bit like going to a tea party where it’s BYO sugar-cube. An element missing from this scene is the presence of ants. Ants would usually attend these creatures to harvest the honeydew in return for protecting them from predators.

Maybe the ants were out getting the scones and bikkies.

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