Bichos Argentinos #9 – Membracido

Enchenopa? sp. | Buenos Aires, Argentina

This treehopper that I photographed at La Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur strongly resembles our North American species of Campylenchia due to the brown elytra and lack of any yellow markings on the pronotal crest.  However, the rounded lower margin of the frons (more apparent in the full-sized version of this photo) eliminates this genus as a possibility and suggests instead the closely related Enchenopa

I sent this and another photo to Andy Hamilton (Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes) for his opinion.  Andy claims to be a hack when it comes to Neotropical Membracidae (focusing more on world Cercopidae and Holarctic Cicadellidae), but he is a much better hack than I!  In his reply, he mentions that a lot of work is still needed on tropical species and genera, and in fact none of our North American species of Enchenopa actually resemble the type-species from Brazil (Membracis monoceros).  Most of what we now consider Enchenopa will likely be referable back to the genus Membracis (type genus of the family), but where the species in the above photo will eventually fall remains anyone’s guess.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011

About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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3 Responses to Bichos Argentinos #9 – Membracido

  1. Nice photo Ted, membracid’s are always fun subjects in the tropics! I’m kind of confused regarding the taxonomy of Enchenopa; is he suggesting it will likely be a synonym of Membracis? Is Membracis monoceros the type species for Enchenopa (and thus Enchenopa monoceros) or for Membracis? Pedantic I know…

    • Thanks, Morgan. Andy suggests that Enchenopa is a good genus, as the type species (E. monoceros, originally described in Membracis) is quite distinctive compared to species of Membracis. However, the same cannot be said for our North American species currently placed in Enchenopa, which seem to be more closely related to Membracis foliata (Linnaeus, 1758) (type species of Membracis, originally described in Cicada) than they are to E. monoceros and, thus, will likely end up being transferred back to that genus (where they were originally placed).

      I love pedantic!

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