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Keywords:

  • Mallada signata;
  • predator defence;
  • refuge

Abstract

Silk production is common in many arthropod orders but has not previously been demonstrated for any Hemiptera. Evidence is presented of gregarious silk production by the Australian endemic leafhopper Kahaono montana Evans (Cicadellidae: Typhlocybinae: Dikraneurini). Groups of the herbivores live beneath structures made of silk on the underside of the leaves of several native tree species. Work was undertaken in the laboratory to investigate the function of the silk structures. Silk provided protection from predatory lacewings and the leafhoppers were less likely to move from structures in the presence of these predators. Silk structures were partially reconstructed within 24 h demonstrating this species is responsible for producing the silk that it had previously been reported to use.