Super Crop Challenge #15

Can you identify the structure in the photo below (2 pts), what it is doing (2 pts), and the organism to which it belongs (order, family, genus, and species—2 pts each)? Comments will be held in moderation so everybody has a chance to participate, although there are early-bird bonus points on offer. Read the full rules for details on how (and how not) to earn points. Good luck!


Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2013

26 thoughts on “Super Crop Challenge #15

  1. I think it looks like a picture of a spittlebug nymph’s anus, as it whips up a mass of protective froth from the extra liquid left over after it extracts the nutritional value from the plant sap it eats.

    So that would be order Hemiptera, family Cercopidae. And not knowing any better, I’ll go with the spittlebug species I see most commonly, Philaenus spumarius.

  2. I think this is a spittlebug nymph, the structure is the anus, and it’s producing the frothy bubbles that form its namesake spittle.

    Order Hemiptera
    Family Cercopidae
    Lepyronia gibbosa

    Identification based on the dark stripes on a light background, which is distinctive. The nymph of the exotic L. coleoptrata looks similar, but I’m gonna guess this was taken in Missouri, so hopefully this is the native species.

    • Okay, I’m gonna revise my identification based on Ted’s comment, and the Argentina tag above, which I didn’t notice before. So, here goes:

      Order Hemiptera
      Family Aphrophoridae
      Cephisus siccifolius

      It’s a bit of a shot in the dark, but the species seems to be widespread in the neotropics.

  3. I’ll say that this is the ovipositor of a predaceous diving beetle (Order–Coleoptera, Family–Dytiscidae). It appears to be releasing bubbles. Taking a wild guess, I’ll say it’s Laccophilus angustus, based on the fact that that species is listed on the “Dytiscidae of Argentina” web page.

    • I hope my previous “Coleoptera” tag didn’t throw you. If it did my apologies—I tried to make it right and allow extra time.
      I will give you a bonus point for sticking right away with Argentina.

      • When I first saw the “Coleoptera” tag I thought it might be a clue, which led to my guess. But I did see your comment changing it to “No Taxon.” I just didn’t have anything better to go on, so I stuck with my original guess 🙂

  4. Here’s a challenge status update (and a rare show of generosity on my part) – a few responses that are off track and a few that are partly right, but nobody’s got it fully figured out. Here’s a chance to swoop in and nab the early bird points if you can figure it out.

  5. I pondered, and pondered, and pondered. Haven’t a clue! My only thought during all that pondering was “Cigarrinhas” (aka Spittlebugs), Hemiptera, Auchenorrhyncha, Cercopidae. This answer was supported by all the frothy bubbles and my fondness for cigars. I was also titilated by the idea that I would get to explain how all those bubbles were the results of a combination of air, mucopolysaccharides, and excreted xylem fluid, all in all slimy trapped farts! That would probably mean that the insect structure in the photo represented the overlapping abdominal plates that form the breathing tube.

    Butt alas, then I noticed you had the picture filed under “Coleoptera”…. 😦

    ponder, ponder, ponder….

  6. To those who have already answered (and those who considered answering but didn’t because they were too stumped), please note that the post should have been posted under “[No taxon]” rather than the order that was listed. Not saying the order listed was wrong or right, just that if you considered it in your answer then maybe you willl want to reconsider.


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