ALIEN VER­SUS PREDA­TORS

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Our World - SB

The tree­hop­per is the cy­borg of the in­sect world, with bizarre pro­jec­tions and pro­tu­ber­ances sprout­ing from its tho­rax. The pre­cise func­tion of these ex­treme en­hance­ments is rather mys­te­ri­ous. They may play a part in phys­i­cal pro­tec­tion or mate at­trac­tion. Or they could serve as res­onators for the am­pli­fi­ca­tion of acous­tic sig­nals. In the case of the trop­i­cal Amer­i­can species Alchisme grossa, though, cam­ou­flage is at least part of the story. And any preda­tor that sees through the thorn-like dis­guise still has to con­tend with an arse­nal of toxic chem­i­cals har­nessed from the sap that the bugs suck from wild potato plants.

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