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Tiny Walking Popcorn Planthopper Nymph Is One Freaky Natural Wonder

Before Andreas Kay, a very talented nature photographer, passed away in 2019, he managed to capture what looks like a tiny walking piece of popcorn or clump of snow. However, this small creature is actually called a flatid planthopper nymph. The insect covers itself in waxy secretions, which allows it to better hide from predators. You can find this variety of planthopper in the Amazon Forest. These insects feed by inserting their tiny beaks into plants’ vascular systems and sucking out nutrient-rich sap using kind-of a natural hydraulic pump inside their heads. The byproduct from how they feed is an excretion of a sticky substance known as honeydew that tends to attract other insects such as ants and wasps.

While this may sound like a problem, the bugs also produce a pure white wax from their glands that line their abdomen. The wax serves as protection from wasps that might try to sting them and insert their eggs into their bodies. The wax can also confuse other predators such as ladybugs and lacewings who wish to eat them but are often fooled by their waxy disguise. These bugs are hatched from eggs inserted into the stem of plants a few months prior by an adult planthopper.

 

The nymphs start to molt and soon grow into adult hoppers.

However, the adults do not make as much wax as they once did in their youth.

 

But, by that time, their bodies are usually coated with plenty of wax, which also serves the purpose of helping them glide whenever they fall from plants.

You can watch these curious creatures in action in the video below.

 

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