Graphocephala coccinea

ImageI discovered this pretty bug today on a milkweed leaf while I was monarch egg-hunting.  Even better is its common name, the candy-striped leafhopper. It is one of the most attractive insects I’ve ever seen.  Bright pink and turquoise stripes, with yellow legs.  It hopped away so quickly that I could only capture a few shots of it.

These colorful insects are found from Canada south to Panama, and they can live in meadows or woodlands.  They have specialized mouthparts that allow them to ingest the juices of a plant.  Unfortunately they are known to be quite destructive to plants by piercing holes in their leaves to get at the juices.  They can also pass disease from plant to plant in this way.  Since their favorite meals include raspberry and blackberry leaves, I’m not surprised at finding a few in our garden.

Interestingly, these bugs’ eyes are bigger than their stomachs and because they overeat, will excrete a bubble of clear fluid (made up of plant sap and wastes) with a loud “pop” that can be heard by a human.

They overwinter as adults and after mating in the spring, lay their eggs inside the veins on the underside of plants.  Adults, who are mature after 10-14 days, live for about a month and females lay up to six eggs daily.Image

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