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Yellow-headed Leafhopper - Brunotartessus fulvus

Family Cicadllidae, Subfamily Tartessinae

This page contains pictures and information about Yellow-headed Leafhoppers that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.

Body length 8mm
 
Leafhoppers are tent-shaped insects which resemble mini cicadas. They are reddish-brown in colour with bright yellow thorax and head. When disturbed, they hide to the other side of the leaf. If further disturbed, they hop away and disappear.
 
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Unlike other leafhoppers usually found on stems or tree trunk, this Yellow-headed Leafhopper likes to rest on top of leaf surface.  
 
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We noticed one interesting thing about this insect. They have three pairs of legs but use only two pairs for slowly walking. They hold the last pair of legs up which used only for jumping. When disturbed, as most other leafhoppers, they jump away with a 'click' sound.
 
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We usually found this hoppers in small group on leaves. This leafhopper is common in Brisbane.
 
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The above picture shows the Leafhopper just came out from its last molting, the shed skin was still beside it. Also notice that the young adult's body was still in pale colour. 
 
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Those adult Leafhoppers were found on a large leaf near a pond in Wishart. They were resting, may be feeding as well. Few hours later, we came back and checked the leaf, they were still there. 
 
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Nymph

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The pictures show nymphs in different nymphal stages. There are five nymphal stages and one generation per year. Above pictures were taken on late spring where we found adults and nymphs on the same plant.  
 
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The above pictures show the last instars of  the Leafhopper. Notice that the brown colour of the leaf coursed by the insects. We saw there were a few brown leave, otherwise, we did not notice any other damages to the tree. Leafhopper nymph and adult are sapsuckers which feed on the leaves, twigs and branches of the host tree.
 
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Reference:
1. Brunotartessus fulvus (Walker) - Fletcher, M.J. (2009 and updates). Identification keys and checklists for the leafhoppers, planthoppers and their relatives occurring in Australia and neighbouring areas (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha).
2. Species Alotartessus iambe (Kirkaldy, 1907) - Australian Biological Resources Study, Department of the Environment and Heritage.
3. Phylogeny and systematics of the leafhopper subfamily Ledrinae (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) - Jones, J.R. & Deitz, L.L. (2009), Zootaxa 2186: 1-120. 
4. The Tartessinae of Australia, New Guinea and some adjacent islands (Homoptera: Cicadellidae) - Evans, F. (1981) Pacific Insects 23: 112-188.
5. Insects of Australia, CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Melbourne University Press, 2nd Edition 1991, Fig 30.33B.

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Last updated: March 17, 2012.