With around 20,000 species worldwide, leafhoppers (family Cicadellidae) are not only the largest family of true bugs (order Hemiptera) but also one of the top ten largest families of all insects. My favorite are “sharpshooters” (subfamily Cicadellinae)—large, distinctive, brightly colored species, and the individual shown in the photo above is no exception. I found it today in a soybean field in western Buenos Aires Province. Leafhoppers do have a reputation for difficult taxonomy due to their diverse numbers and often similar appearance (many can only be distinguished by examination of male genitalia); however, the distinctive color patterns of sharpshooters make many of them relatively easy to identify. The best resource for doing this is Sharpshooter Leafhoppers of the World (Wilson et al. 2009), an excellent website with a searchable photo database of nearly all 2,400 recognized species in the subfamily. According to that site, there are 64 species of sharpshooters recorded from Argentina, with the individual in this photo being a dead ringer for Pawiloma victima.
Wilson M. R., J. A. Turner & S. H. McKamey. 2009. Sharpshooter Leafhoppers of the World (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae subfamily Cicadellinae). Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. Available online at http://naturalhistory.museumwales.ac.uk/Sharpshooters [accessed: 8 March 2012 ].