Wax-tailed hopper (Pterodictya reticularis)

Weird Wax-Tailed Planthoppers Have Long Wax Plumes on Their Butt

The wax-tailed planthopper is one of the weirdest insects in the world. Its unique appearance and behaviors have captured the attention of entomologists and nature enthusiasts alike. Here are some fascinating facts about the wax-tailed planthopper, especially its interesting tail.

Wax-tailed planthopper
Scientific name: Pterodictya reticularis
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Genus: Pterodictya

1. Their waxy tail is their defensive

The wax-tailed hopper or wax-tailed planthopper is a planthopper species that belongs to the family Fulgoridae. It’s It is related to treehoppers and cicadas.

As the name suggests, this species has a tail made of wax. These long wax plumes are the most highlighted features of this insect.

A weird yet beautiful wax-tailed bug

According to entomologists, the wax on the wax-tail planthoppers is not meant for decorative purposes but rather serves as a defense mechanism. It’s like a warm to predators that the insect has an unpleasant taste due to the accumulation of wax.

The wax plumes also protect wax-tail planthoppers from small parasitoid insects and provide cushioning if the insect falls. Females also employ wax as a protective coating for their egg clutches, safeguarding them from parasitic insects and the damaging effects of dehydration.

These species have long wax plumes at their butt

Asides from protecting the insect, the elongated wax secretions serve as bait for predators. If they break off, the insect can flee, leaving the predator with just a mouthful of wax. Amazingly, fluffy tail planthoppers can regrow another waxy tail after that.

These weird insects are renowned for their speedy movements, similar to that of a grasshopper. This insect is one of the most recognizable insects in rainforests around the world, thanks to their unique delicate wings and standout waxy tail.

2. Diet

Similar to their relatives, waxy planthoppers subsist on the sap of plants, primarily from the phloem. Through their straw-shaped mouthparts, they sip the tree’s nectar and process the nutrients into ketoester waxes, which are utilized to create lengthy, plume-like structures.

They eat plant juice as their main food source

3. Life cycle

The life cycle of wax-tailed planthoppers is similar to other planthopper life cycles. They will go through 3 stages: egg – nymph – adult.


After mating, the female wax-tailed planthoppers deposit batches of 90-110 eggs resembling whiteish blobs on suitable leaves. These eggs will hatch in 6 to 8 days depending on the planthopper species and surroundings.

Mating wax tailed planthopper

A female is laying eggs/Cre: on pic


Nymphs are white at this stage and they have great tactics to protect themselves from predators. Their fluffy coats surrounding their bodies act as camouflage against predators. In addition, their abdomen secretes a waxy material to create fiber optic-like tails. These lines diverge in all directions from the back of the nymphs and serve as a scare tactic to awe potential predators.

The fiber optic tails also help the planthoppers to glide in the air after hopping. The nymphs use their tails to fan the air behind them, providing a boost and allowing them to move further and faster.

The nymphs typically remain close to the egg mass until departing, initially forming small groups before spreading out further. Due to the secretions they produce, their living area becomes waxy.

The wax-tailed planthopper nymph white

The waxy planthopper nymphs possess three legs, antennae, and a rostrum with stylets. They will get adult features through molting multiple times. With age, the nymphs develop wing buds and a bushy, fiber-optic tail that exudes wax.

Depending on the species and conditions, planthoppers spend roughly 16-18 days as nymphs.

Adult: As the nymph matures into an adult, it acquires a complete wingspan. The wings of the wax-tailed planthopper adults appear lacy. The lifespan of adult planthoppers is typically around 15-20 days.

An adult waxy tail hopper



Animal Facts 276

We are passionate animal enthusiasts with over a decade of experience studying animals. With a degree in zoology and conservation biology, we've contributed to various research and conservation projects. We're excited to bring you engaging content that highlights the wonders of the animal kingdom. We aim to inspire others to appreciate and protect wildlife through informative content grounded in expertise and passion. Join us as we delve into the captivating world of animals and discover the incredible stories they have to tell.

Leave a Comment