Spring has sprung, rain has fallen, temperatures have climbed and here in Austin, Texas, we’re mostly through our beautiful and glorious spring weather and headed into the lovely–though admittedly somewhat less pleasant–summer season. Summers in Texas are hot and humid and that’s one reason why Texans have historically liked trees; trees provide respite from the sun and cool our souls. The American Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis is a tree that the Native Americans and later, European and American pioneers, scouted for when they wanted to find water and shade in Texas.
Stately and tall, the American Sycamore is springtime resplendent in its lush, green foliage, all leafed out and ready to provide protection for critters–large and small, furred and feathered, two-legged and four-legged.
This month, the leaves have been munched upon and are a bit holey.
I’m not sure exactly who’s been eating the leafy greens, though I know I’ve seen this sort of damage in previous years on the Sycamore’s leaves.
I did see this fella, a Glassy Winged Sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis, on one of the leaves.
Now, I’m not suggesting that this particular one is responsible for all the holes, but apparently, the Sharpshooter undergoes several molts in its trip toward adulthood and it had to eat something, so I think the leaves are a good bet. Since I caught the Sharpshooter near the holes, he gets the blame for making the holes.
The Glassy Winged Sharpshooter is a type of leafhopper insect, of which there are a bunch who munch on shrub and tree foliage here in Central Texas. I’m not one to fret about a few holes in leaves–everyone has to eat and one function of foliage is to feed insects. The Glassy Winged is common here in Central Texas and according to literature, they do little long-term or serious damage to trees and shrubs.
This one–the one I referred to earlier as a “fella” and “he”–is actually a female. The white patches on her wings are call egg brochosomes.
Most leafhopper species have brochosomes, which produce a sticky substance used to coat their bodies for waterproofing. Additionally, the female stores and then uses the substance she holds in the brochosomes to cover her eggs once she lays them.
Also, if you stand under the Sycamore (and my oak trees, too) right now, you might feel a few “drops” from the trees, sort of like rain drops, but with a clear, blue sky above. No, the drops aren’t rogue precipitation, but, more than likely, are leafhopper excrement.
Well, that’s nice. Just don’t host your next picnic underneath a tree with “drops” coming out of it.
The Sycamore in May is in full leaf, foliage, and life.
It will be a harbinger of safety, food, and protection for many and for months to come.
Thanking Pat of The Squirrelbasket for graciously hosting this fun meme about trees. Check out her blog for interesting information about trees from all over the world.