Thursday, August 31, 2006

A lesson in sharpshooting

Bugs are peeing on me.

I have noticed that tiny droplets seem to be raining continuously from the crepe myrtle trees. I always assumed that somehow, moisture from the flowers was seeping and dripping in a shower that could be felt ever so gently, and seen only when the light hit it just right.

Well, this week I learned that the droplets are coming from glassy winged sharpshooters, a type of leafhopper.

My lesson began the other day, while looking at some harlequin bugs on my neighbor’s bushes. I noticed what looked like the flash of spider silk in the sun. Or maybe a really tiny stream of squirting liquid. On closer inspection, I observed the flashing stream as it was coming out of a sharpshooter nymph. Was it really squirting liquid? I noticed a nearby leaf which was right in the line of fire, and it was wet. I could see the liquid hitting it in tiny splashes.

The sharpshooter was peeing, a lot. It was like it was sucking the juices out of the plant and peeing it right out, simultaneously.

I quickly became suspicious of the delicate shower from my crepe myrtle trees, and soon confirmed, by following one of the tiny squirts back up to its source, that the sharpshooters were peeing there, too.

I found an article about them. It expains all about the prolific peeing, and even includes a video that shows a rainstorm of peeing sharpshooters for your viewing pleasure. I had trouble getting the video to play, so I hope you can see it.
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