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Habitual Gardener

Promoting healthy garden habits and habitats
wooly planthopper Kloth

Taking a closer look

People admire certain philosophers - Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Homer Simpson. I’ve always been drawn to the great baseball philosopher Yogi Berra. His quotes are simplistically and intricately woven fragments of truth and fairy tale. One of his quotes I live by is, “You see a lot by just looking” Debbie Kloth of Urbana Illinois saw a lot by looking when she photographed this planthopper on her Rose-of-Sharon shrub. She wondered what it was and sent it to me for identification.

Dr. Phil Nixon confirmed it as a planthopper. Yes that cottony mass attached to its behind is a part of the insect. Just like smoky exhaust coming out of a hot rod. Looks like it’s moving even when it’s standing still. How impressive! Note the intricacies of the eye and legs of the nymph. At first we might confuse the cottony masses produced in abundance by the planthopper nymphs as mealybug or cottony maple scale. But look close and the planthopper’s triangular flattened shape gives it away. White cottony filaments are excreted by several insects to protect them from predators. Below is a picture Debbie took of the planthopper nymphs. Debbie was concerned about the insects feeding on her Rose-of-Sharon shrubs, but fear not their sap-feeding seldom causes much injury. A forceful stream of water can quickly lessen their numbers if needed. Or why not enjoy the show of “seeing a lot by looking” closer. Plus as Yogi would say “If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”

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