I like bugs, but I prefer not to have them in my own space, especially not while sleeping or driving, and this...thing...grossed me out a bit when it alighted beside me last week.
I put my window down to shoo it out and all it did was crawl - well, not crawl, more like settle - into the groove where the window had retreated. I parked, it sat. So I did what any self-respecting seeker of knowledge does: I looked closer and then ran for my camera. It waited patiently for me to return. Not the best model (come on, work your angles! don't just sit in a power-window trench!), but I got enough shots to eventually identify it as some sort of treehopper (you try googling "freaky fly with horn on its head," I dare you). You know how I normally effuse over bug stuff? Well, this time I'm going to issue a warning: don't click the treehopper link up there unless you really like ugly bugs. I can deal with all kinds of creepy crawlies but these guys gross me right out. They're a special kind of sci-fi wiggy. If you think Klingons are cute, maybe these are the bugs for you.
I originally thought it might be a specimen of Umbonia crassicornis, but the problem is, they're not supposed to exist north of Florida and Texas. and their horns seem to extend toward their tails, not over their eyes. Searching for Umbonia in Virginia turned up oak treehoppers, AKA Platycotis vittata. I sense I'm loosing you, but bear with me for a sec. Remember biology class back in high school? Remember taxonomic classification? Kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species? (King Philip came over for good spaghetti...)Ok, so this goes something like this:
Phylum: Arthropoda (insects, arachnids, crustaceans, etc)
Order: Hemiptera (cicadas, aphids, planthoppers, leafhoppers, shield bugs, etc)
Family: Membracidae (tree hoppers and thorn bugs)
So, that's the vastly oversimplified version. Most of those steps have multiple subclasses, but whatever. Full breakdown here for those who go "ooooh" for that sort of thing. My point: Platycotis and Umbonia are both phyla of the Membracidae family. So I don't feel quite so inept about having my classification wrong. Also cool: notice that cicadas are Hemiptera. Look at those eyes and wings. Awesomeness.
Something less geeky: their nymphs are gorgeous. Wish I'd seen them. Yeah, so now I've gone from being disgusted by these guys to hoping the oak tree out front is loaded down with 'em.
What will land on my window tomorrow?