Host specificity of insects sucking on leaf mesophyll cells (Hemiptera, Typhlocybinae)

Leafhoppers from the subfamily of Typhlocybinae pierce individual cells in leaf mesophyll of their host plants and empty their contents. This unique mode of feeding has evolved among insect herbivores only once and lead to large diversification of the typhlocybine leafhoppers. It also constrained maximum body size of these insects so that typhlocybines are all very small, and also of uniform appearance. This makes them particularly unpopular with entomologists so that they are virtually unknown. Our study focused on typhlocybine communities of 80 species of rainforest trees and discovered that they belong among the most specialised herbivorous guilds.

Study leaders at our Center: Leontine Baje, Alan Stewart, Vojtech Novotny

Pictures: [ Sap sucking insects ]