What was yesterday’s Panamanian bug of intrigue and mystery?

Here’s one lurking inconspicuously among some Dolichoderus bispinosus ants:

Lophyraspis muscaria

An adult ant-mimicking plant hopper, Lophyraspis muscaria, at left, blends in with Dolichoderus ants as they tend honeydew-producing nymphs on a Panamanian bromeliad. Gamboa, Panama.

So the correct answer is Aetalionidae: Lophyraspis, and the model is Dolichoderus. I am also accepting what I understand to be the junior synonym, Gerridius.

Points are awarded as follows:

5 to Jason Cryan for family & partial for genus, 2 to Mark Sturtevant for picking the valid generic name, 4 to Rodolfo for getting the mimic, and 1 consolation point each to Jason C and Matt P for discussing other possible models (although, Camponotus sericeiventris is likely a stretch given its size).

In life, the bug’s camouflage is effective. I did not immediately notice it among the ants. Oddly, Lophyraspis is a backwards mimic, so that the head of the bug appears to be the ant’s backside. So. Um. Hairy butt mimic.


source: Sakakibara, AM,  Creao-Duarte, AJ. (2004) Sobre o gênero Lophyraspis Stål e descrição de novas espécies (Hemiptera, Aetalionidae, Biturritiinae). Rev. Bras. entomol. [online]. 48:193-197. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0085-56262004000200006.