(ORDO NEWS) — Biologists have discovered a previously unknown very rare species of leafhoppers in Uganda.
Scientists last saw other representatives of the genus in another part of Africa more than 50 years ago. The description of the find was published by the scientific journal Zootaxa.
Leafhoppers are a family of sucking insects that live on all continents of the Earth except Antarctica. According to scientists, there are more than 20 thousand species of these insects on Earth.
Some of them are very rare and lead a secretive life, which makes it difficult to study them. In particular, leafhoppers from the genus Phlogis were last seen only in 1969, during expeditions to the forests of the Central African Republic.
“The leafhoppers from this genus and the subfamily Signoretiinae associated with it have an extremely bizarre appearance and are very rare in nature. In fact, we know nothing about their biology, including the sap of which plants the discovered leafhoppers of the species Phlogis kibalensis and what role they play in the ecosystems of Uganda,” said Ruskin Alvin Helden, one of the researchers, a researcher at the University of England.
Helden and his students accidentally discovered one of the previously unknown representatives of this genus of leafhoppers during an expedition to Kibale National Park, located in western Uganda. The main goal of the expedition was to create an atlas of butterflies and other insects that inhabit the territory of Kibale.
In one of the photographs, Helden discovered a previously unknown species of leafhoppers, which, in terms of description, size and other properties, was very similar to insects from the genus Phlogis. This forced biologists to capture several leafhoppers they discovered and study them in detail.
Subsequent checks confirmed that Helden and his colleagues had discovered a previously unknown species of these insects, which was named Phlogis kibalensis after the national park.
Further observations of these leafhoppers, biologists hope, will help determine the diet of insects and understand why they are so rare in nature, but are still present in two very different regions of Africa.
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