FunNature & AnimalThey discover a rare insect with leaf-shaped genitalia

They discover a rare insect with leaf-shaped genitalia

It has been named Phlogis kibalensis and is so unusual that it belongs to a group of insects so rare that its closest relative was last seen in 1969.

Found in the rain forest of Uganda, this species of grasshopper was discovered by a British scientist doing fieldwork in a national park in western Uganda. The species has a metallic sheen and a beak-like body surface. Another of its oddities is its uniquely shaped male reproductive organs, in this case partially leaf-shaped.

Although grasshoppers are closely related to cicadas, they are much smaller. This particular creature is only 6.5 millimeters long (the male). The Phlogis kibalensis specimen has reddish-brown eyes, although these were more conspicuously red when the specimen was alive. Its body is covered in thick, closely spaced perforations covered with intricately structured microscopic granules called brochosomes, making many holes appear white.

“Finding this new species is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement , particularly as its closest relative was last found in a different location over 50 years ago. I knew it was something very special as soon as I saw it,” explains Alvin Helden. from Anglia Ruskin University in their work published in the journal Zootaxa.

These grasshoppers feed primarily on plant sap , sucked directly from the phloem, and are preyed upon by invertebrates, including spiders, beetles, and parasitic wasps, as well as birds.

“There is still so much to discover, not just about this species, but about many others, including the many species that are still waiting to be discovered. It is incredibly sad to think that some species will be extinct before we know it.”



Referencia: A new species of the unusual leafhopper genus Phlogis Linnavuori (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae: Signoretiinae) from Uganda, Zootaxa (2022).

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