Center for Systematic Entomology, Gainesville, Florida



Robert Perger

Date of this Version



Perger R. 2021. First reports of species-specific ant resemblance in heteronotine treehoppers (Hemiptera: Membracidae: Heteronotinae). Insecta Mundi 0888: 1–6.


Copyright held by the author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons, Attribution Non-Commercial License,

Published on October 11, 2021 by Center for Systematic Entomology, Inc. P.O. Box 141874 Gainesville, FL 32614-1874 USA


Species-specific ant resemblance in heteronotine membracids (Hemiptera: Membracidae) is re­ported for the first time, providing evidence for ant mimicry. The shape, integument color and shine of the pronotal process of females of Heteronotus fabulosus Boulard closely resemble workers of the co-occurring giant turtle ant Cephalotes atratus (Linnaeus) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). The entire membracid appears to mimic a mutualistic relationship between a membracid and a turtle ant.

The treehopper family Membracidae Rafinesque, 1815 is famous among entomologists for their mutualistic rela­tionships with hymenopterans (Way 1963) and high morphological diversity of their pronotum, often consisting of brightly colored and/or curiously shaped structures such as horns, spines, and/or nodes (Evangelista et al. 2016). The Neotropical treehopper subfamily Heteronotinae Goding, 1926 contains the most remarkable tree­hoppers with regard to the diversity of pronotal morphology (Evangelista et al. 2016). The high variation in pronotal shape in this subfamily is likely associated with different evolutionary strategies of mimicry, camouflage and/or defense against predators (Poulton 1903; Boulard 1983). One of the two clades that was recovered by a phylogenetic analysis of the heteronotine genus Heteronotus Laporte, 1832, is assumed to include mimics of a variety of arboreal ants (Evangelista et al. 2016). However, due to lack of field observations and experimental evidence, potential ant models and ant mimicry still remain hypothetical (Evangelista et al. 2016). In this contri­bution, species-specific ant resemblance is reported in heteronotine treehoppers for the first time.