Photo of the Week – December 17, 2010

I don’t usually think about photographing insects during the winter, but I found this tiny tree hopper crawling on my kitchen sink last night. 

I’m pretty sure the tree hopper hitchhiked to my house in a bag of lettuce.  I don’t think it’s going to cause any ecological problems, but it’s a good reminder of the ease with which invasive species can move around the world.  I have no idea where that bag of lettuce was harvested, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t come from here in Nebraska. 

Now the question is – what do I do with it?  It’s not going to survive long in the ziplock bag it’s in right now.  Do I let it roam around the house?  Do I put it outside in the freezing cold?  Do I put it back in the lettuce bag?

Anyone looking for a pet?

7 thoughts on “Photo of the Week – December 17, 2010

  1. Nate Walker December 17, 2010 / 12:05 pm

    It looks like a Three Cornered Alfalfa Hopper, a fairly common species across the country from the sounds of it. I also found some great pictures on

    As to what to do with it, that’s up to you to decide. If it gives you the “puppy dog eyes” you could always keep it for a pet until spring. You could grow some of your garden vegetables in the house this winter so it has something to feed on. [Threecornered alfalfa hoppers have a wide host range that includes alfalfa, clovers, cowpeas, grasses (Bermudagrass, Johnsongrass), small grains (barley, oats, wheat), soybeans, sunflowers, tomatoes, vetch and weeds. Adult and nymph stages can be found by sweeping soybean or alfalfa fields and weedy areas. – from Texas A&M]

    Cool picture though; thanks for sharing!!

    • Chris Helzer December 17, 2010 / 12:10 pm

      Nate – great information, thanks.. Expect a package in the mail very soon. You might want to open it right away…
      (you might also want to pick up some lettuce on your way home tonight)

  2. Stew Magnuson December 17, 2010 / 1:57 pm

    I wouldn’t buy that brand of lettuce anymore, that’s for sure.

  3. Eric December 17, 2010 / 2:30 pm

    Find something that eats leaf hoppers and let the food chain do the rest…

  4. Adrian Olivera December 17, 2010 / 6:52 pm

    I agree with Nate. Maybe a small aquarium tuned into a TCA Hopper habitat. And a photo once or twice a month until it is released :-). What are you naming it?

  5. Alison Krohn December 17, 2010 / 7:46 pm

    Let it roam till a spider finds it? Assuming you have a spider somewhere. I know we do. The cat doesn’t like lizards….

  6. Ernest ochsner December 18, 2010 / 1:45 pm

    Now I know where they got the patterns for locomotives. What a cute little creature and probably cold as well.


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