What’s that green and red-striped bug?

Yesterday we met some friends for a Sunday afternoon meander through the Spring Valley nature preserve in Schaumburg, Illinois. As part of her program of studying trees (a project made easy by the fact that the park has little signs identifying each of the major types in the preserve), The Seven-Year-Old came across this little guy crawling along an old log:

Candy Striped Leafhopper (Photo: Shala Howell)

Candy Striped Leafhopper (Photo: Shala Howell)

“What is that bug?” she wondered.

No one in the group knew, so Mommyo whipped out her camera (which comes in a handy iPhone case) and took a picture, promising all and sundry to ask Caterpickles at some point this week.

While doing my homework this morning, I came across a rather fabulous bug identification site. Billed as being for the casual insect observer, InsectIdentification.org helps you identify a host of wee wild beasties by answering a few questions about their primary and secondary colors, the state where you saw them, and the number of legs they have.  Results include pictures, which makes identification easy.

Based on my quick search, the bug we saw is a Candy-Striped Leafhopper. Although lovely, The Seven-Year-Old and I have since learned (courtesy of InsectIdentification.org) that the leafhopper can be lethal to blackberry bushes, roses, and rhododendrons. Apparently, it likes their juices the best, and has been known to suck plants dry. Worse, the leafhopper leaves behind a trail of sweet-smelling bubbly liquid waste (“Just call it bug poop, Mommyo”) that attracts flies, wasps, and other pests to the infested plant.

So, what did you find out in the world this weekend?

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book, Did Dinosaurs Have Belly Buttons?, is currently planned for release in 2018. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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