planthopper nymph fireworks (3)

Photo: Flickr user pbertner

planthopper, planthopper nymph, Fulgoroidea (4)

Photo: Flickr user hardybackyardgeo

 fireworks (4)

photo: Hock Guek

nymph fireworks (2)

photo: Flickr user pbertner

Habitat: worldwide distribution
Status: No Conservation Concerns

Nothing rings in the New Year like some fabulous Fulgoroidea! These are planthopper nymphs, tiny little insects that look like they’re shooting iridescent sparks out of their tiny tushies.

Their tails are actually extruded wax, which the nymphs produce for a variety of reasons. In some species, the wax forms into a fan shape that allows the insect to descend more slowly when falling through the air. Other times, it is used as a simple distraction to predators. The wax is hydrophobic, too, so these ‘fireworks’ stand no chance of a rain delay.

Also, planthopper nymphs (which is just a fancy way of saying planthopper babies, mind you) are super duper teeny tiny. Like… they can be the size of a thumb wrinkle kind of tiny:

planthopper, planthopper nymph, Fulgoroidea (3)

Photo: Flickr user Ken-ichi Ueda

So, their minuscule size adds to their eccentric cuteness. Their movements are quick and deliberate, much like grasshoppers – hence their “hopper” name.

I say we all ‘jump’ into the New Year with positive spirits. Cheers everyone! Thank you all for making 2014 so special.