Thursday, February 4, 2010

Our Bugs's Life #8 - A Cicada: No, A Palm Planthopper: Yes

Some time ago I noticed this peculiar (and hilarious) looking creature in our garden (my one and only spotting of its kind). She didn't seem to mind me taking close-up photos of her when she was sitting on a wide strappy leaf. She was quite tiny, as you can see from the images below when she was standing on my finger. I'm saying she, because I suspect she might have been laying eggs, when I disturbed her - see the side-by-side photos below: she popped out what was like a drop of water, while I was observing her.

After spending time on the net trying to identify her, I suspect she's a cicada, of which there are some 200 species in Australia. I couldn't get a proper match (well, not even a close one), so after publishing this post I'll e-mail the picture to the great guys at the 'What's That Bug?' (art) website (they're here); I hope they can help me with this. Of course, if any of the readers of this post recognise her, please feel free to e-mail me at, or leave a comment here on the blog site. I'll update this post, if there's more information coming. Of course, it might not be a cicada after all!



Katsurako Higano
A Sunny Day, 1990's
Etching, 45 x 59 cm, edition 3/30
Esa Jaske Collection


About What's That Bug (courtesy of

Visual artist Daniel Marlos, known primarily for making photographs and experimental films, embarked upon a new venture when he was asked to contribute a column to American Homebody, a zine that was the brainchild of Marlos’ longtime collaborator Lisa Anne Auerbach. What’s That Bug? became a print column in mid 1998 and it was an instant hit with the small readership who needed assistance identifying the unknown creatures that crawled about inside and outside the home. In early 2000, American Homebody launched a presence on the internet, and What’s That Bug? went along for the ride. The persona of The Bugman, a self-proclaimed insect expert, was born, and the column quickly become the most popular component of the parent website that was also devoted to recipes, helpful hints and all things related to domesticity. 

It soon became evident that everyone really did want to know What’s That Bug? and the column spun off into a unique website that each year garners more and more attention from the appreciative public. Some recent accolades include Yahoo Pick of the week in 2003, USA Today Hotsite in 2004, Earthlink Weird Web in 2006, Real Simple Magazine in 2006, Sunset Magazine in 2007, and a lecture at the Getty in 2008. It has always been the mission of What’s That Bug? to educate the public in an entertaining manner, and to promote tolerance of insects and other beings that share our planet, including foreign cultures whose world views are radically different from our own. Though Daniel Marlos has been writing What’s That Bug? for more than ten years, The Curious World of Insects is his first book.


Dear Ridou Ridou,
This appears to be a Palm Planthopper, Magia subocellata, one of the Lophopid Planthoppers in the family Lophopidae.  The Planthoppers are related to the Cicadas, hence your confusion.  We identified your Palm Planthopper on the Brisbane Insect Page.  Flickr has a nice image that shows the colors well, but the dead mounted specimens on the New South Wales Government website have lost their lovely blue and green coloration.

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