Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Spraying bug


I'm in Memphis, TN and I've seen these bugs mainly on my Crape Myrtles.  They appear in spring and I haven't seen one for about two weeks, I see them all times of day.  They are small - maybe 1/4 inch - gray, and almost look like a flounder when viewed from the top.  They constantly squirt liquid out their hind ends.  I haven't seen them fly, mostly they just sit there spraying.  But they will sort of play "hide and seek" with me around a stem (jump/crawl sideways to the other side) if I get too close.


Without at least an image of the insect, and preferably a specimen, I can only say they are some type of leafhopper or planthopper in the order Hemiptera, suborder Auchenorrhyncha.

I'd advise taking intact specimens to a local entomologist at a university, natural history museum, state department of agriculture office, or Cooperative Extension Service (county extension, usually located in the county seat).  He or she would be much more knowledgeable about local insects.

You could also attach an image of the critter(s) with a follow-up question, and I could at least get you into a smaller ballpark of suspects.

Leafhoppers and planthoppers suck sap, but it is not a very nutritious liquid, so they have to consume quite a bit.  It quickly passes through their gut and is excreted as a liquid waste, sometimes forcibly so, as you describe.  Some leafhoppers are even known as "sharpshooters" because of this behavior.


Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton


I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.


Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

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One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

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Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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