|Siphanta acuta (Flatidae)|
A planthopper is any insect in the infraorder Fulgoromorpha: in the suborder Auchenorrhyncha and exceeding 12,500 described species worldwide. The name comes from their remarkable resemblance to leaves and other plants of their environment and from the fact that they often "hop" for quick transportation in a similar way to that of grasshoppers. However, planthoppers generally walk very slowly so as not to attract attention. Distributed worldwide, all members of this group are plant-feeders, though surprisingly few are considered pests. The infraorder contains only a single superfamily, Fulgoroidea. Fulgoroids are most reliably distinguished from the other Auchenorrhyncha by two features; the bifurcate ("Y"-shaped) anal vein in the forewing, and the thickened, three-segmented antennae, with a generally round or egg-shaped second segment (pedicel) that bears a fine filamentous arista.
Nymphs of many fulgoroids produce wax from special glands on the abdominal terga and other parts of the body. These are hydrophobic and help conceal the insects. Adult females of many families also produce wax which may be used to protect eggs.
Fulgoroid nymphs also possess a biological gear mechanism at the base of the hind legs, which keeps the legs in synchrony when the insects jump. The gears, not present in the adults, were known for decades before the recent description of their function.
As mentioned under Auchenorrhyncha, some authors use the name Archaeorrhyncha as a replacement for the Fulgoromorpha.
The extant families of Fulgoroidea are:
- Eurybrachidae (= Eurybrachyidae)
- Issidae (sometimes includes Caliscelidae)
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