The fulgorid genus Fulgora contains several large Central and South American planthoppers known by a large variety of common names including lantern fly , peanut bug , peanut-headed lanternfly , alligator bug , machaca , and jequitiranaboia the latter terms used in the Amazon region and elsewhere in Brazil. The nine species are mostly similar in appearance, with differences in the shape of the head often quite subtle , and patterns of wing coloration. The most well-known and widespread of these species is Fulgora laternaria. There is some confusion regarding the validity of some of the currently recognised species. Old World species assigned to this genus belong instead to the genus Pyrops. Fulgora castresii.
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This insect is one of my favourite specimens on display in the Museum of Zoology and its common name perfectly captures its appearance — it really does look as if it has a peanut for a head!
This is all rather strange, so what is going on here? This species belongs to a group of insects called lanternflies, family Fulgoridae, many of which also have elongate bulbous structures branching off from the top of their head, in different shapes and sizes.
Often in nature, a peculiar form can be explained by sexual selection, where the female prefers and chooses to mate with males that possess elaborate colours or large ornaments. However, this usually results in each sex looking different, with females lacking the colours and ornamentation of the males. A popular and plausible suggestion is that the structure acts as a form of defence mechanism. Although it looks like a peanut from the top, if you look at a side view, and really use your imagination, it begins to look a little more like the head of a reptile, such as a snake or lizard, complete with false eye spots and teeth.
Although perhaps unconvincing to us, it could be that a would-be predator is tricked into thinking the harmless lanternfly is actually a larger vertebrate, which could lash out, bite or otherwise cause it harm, and is therefore best to leave alone. If you are a predator, it usually pays to go for the head as you are more likely to make a killing blow.
Therefore, a predator may be tricked into striking at the bulbous tip of the lanternfly, instead of the true head just below it, or at the eye spots on its wing edges. The lanternfly may still suffer a nasty nip, but it is far more likely to leave with its head, which all in all is definitely a win.
In other words, all bugs hemipterans are insects, but not all insects are bugs. The Latin name for this group translates into half — wing Hemi — ptera , due to the fact that many species have forewings that are half transparent and half opaque, with the opaque half reinforced to look more like the wing cases of a beetle. All members of the group have a straw-like sucking and piercing mouthpart. Most species, such as the lanternflies, use this to drink the sap out of plants, but others, like assassin bugs, use it to pierce and drink the insides of other insects!
More familiar hemipterans in the UK include aphids and shield bugs, which are typically in the region of 1 — 15mm in length. Lanternflies, which are mainly found in the Americas, but also Africa and Southeast Asia, are much larger relatives, with the peanut-headed lanternfly growing to have a wingspan as large as 15cm.
She wrote that the head of a lanternfly can light up at night when both sexes are present, and that the light is bright enough to read by. Since then, scientists have questioned this finding and it has now been pretty comprehensively falsified.
In , B. Why Merian would make this false claim is unclear but it is possible that she confused the lanternfly with a bioluminescent click beetle that can be found in the same region.
Therefore, although we now know that they do not light up, the name has stuck, and lanternflies will likely forever be known for a behaviour they never exhibited. Lighting up at night is not the only myth these insects have inspired.
Some believe that if a person is bitten it can quickly lead to their death and that the only cure is to have sexual intercourse! The exact urgency of treatment varies depending on who is asked, with some suggesting the antidote is required within 24 hours, whilst others report that it is required almost instantly, within 15 minutes of the bite taking place. The species is actually harmless, so evidently something about the strange appearance of the peanut-headed lanternfly causes impressive legends to be conjured up around it.
I hope this animal byte has helped shed some light on its weird and wonderful ways. The Fulgoridae Hemiptera, Fulgoromorpha of Guatemala. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account.
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Peanut-headed lanternfly, Fulgora laternaria
The fulgorid insect Fulgora laternaria often misspelled " lanternaria " , is a planthopper known by a large variety of common names, among them lantern fly , peanut bug , peanut-headed lanternfly , alligator bug , machaca , chicharra-machacuy , cocoposa in Spanish and jequitiranaboia in the Amazon region and elsewhere in Brazil. Fulgora laternaria can reach a length of 85—90 millimetres 3. This insect has a protuberance at its head as long as 10—15 millimetres 0. The insect was originally - and mistakenly - believed to be luminescent.
This insect is one of my favourite specimens on display in the Museum of Zoology and its common name perfectly captures its appearance — it really does look as if it has a peanut for a head! This is all rather strange, so what is going on here? This species belongs to a group of insects called lanternflies, family Fulgoridae, many of which also have elongate bulbous structures branching off from the top of their head, in different shapes and sizes. Often in nature, a peculiar form can be explained by sexual selection, where the female prefers and chooses to mate with males that possess elaborate colours or large ornaments. However, this usually results in each sex looking different, with females lacking the colours and ornamentation of the males. A popular and plausible suggestion is that the structure acts as a form of defence mechanism.
Peanut-head Bug Fulgora laternaria. Peanut-head Bug Fulgora laternaria This weird looking creature is an insect, in the family Fulgoridae of the order Homoptera. The Fulgorids all have enlarged foreheads, but it is most remarkable in the peanut-head, so named because its head looks like an unshelled peanut. It grows to about three inches 8 cm long.