Waterhyacinth Planthopper Nymph

Megamelus scutellaris, a native of South America, was released in Florida in 2010 as a biological control agent for waterhyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes, an invasive aquatic plant. Waterhyacinth forms amalgamations on the water’s surface and blocks sunlight from reaching other plants below it, and depleting available oxygen in the water.

Adult waterhyacinth planthoppers come in two forms: macropters, which have fully developed wings, and brachtypters, which do not. All stages of the insect eat only waterhyacinth. (They can live on some closely related plants, but they do best on waterhyacinth.) Eggs are laid on the plant, and go through five instars before emerging as adults. Multiple, overlapping generations are produced per year.

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