This leafhopper, Oncometopia orbona, is also called the broad-headed sharpshooter. The name “sharpshooter” might refer to one of two characteristics: its ability to launch itself through the air like a bullet (2), or the ability of some members of this group to shoot watery wastes with considerable force and distance (3). Oncometopia orbona is the most widely distributed eastern species of its genus (3). The species is a vector of the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, which causes Pierce’s disease in grapevines (4). Females sometimes have white patches called brochosomes on the sides of their forewings. These patches contain proteins, made by the excretory system, that the females smear onto their eggs to prevent them from drying out (3).
(2) Milne, L.J. and M. Milne, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders, (1980), New York, A.A. Knopf.
(3) Eaton, E.R. and K. Kaufman, Field Guide to Insects of North America, (2007), New York, Houghton Mifflin.
(4) Wallingford, A.K., Evaluating the risk of Pierce’s disease in Virginia’s vineyards. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, (December, 2007).