Re: birding-aus Lerps in Australia

To: <>, <>
Subject: Re: birding-aus Lerps in Australia
Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 11:38:45 +1000
     As a follow up to the Lerp discussion it is worth quoting W.W. 
     Froggatt, (1923) NSW Government Entomologist:
     "[In Australia] the place of aphids is taken by the typical lerp 
     insect. These tiny homopterous insects belonging to the PSYLLIDAE are 
     well defined in Australia under the popular name of 'lerp insects', in 
     reference to the remarkable little structures that the larvae of many 
     species produce from the surplus sap they suck up, discharge from the 
     anal segment, and spin into protective shields with their hind legs. 
     Moving about under the lerp scale, they feed upon the sap until 
     full-grown, when they usually crawl from under the shelter and rest on 
     the surface of the leaf, while the pupal skin splits down the back, 
     and the perfect, minute, winged, cicada-like insect emerges.'
     The colour plate of Lerp Scales published in this publication 
     illustrates 21 vastly different form and colour of Lerp scale.
     I would suspect that there are a number of avian species that eat 
     these insects when they emerge to take wing. In the Royal Botanic 
     Gardens the Welcome Swallow and Tree Martins are often seen in large 
     numbers feeding on the lerp insects emerging from the various Ficus 
     trees around the Gardens.
     Alan Leishman,
     Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney 

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: birding-aus Lerps in Australia 
Author:  "Martin O'Brien"<> at mailgate
Date:    18/5/99 12:17

Sean Pywell asks about lerps.
My copy of "The Insects of Australia" by the CSIRO (1991) gives a 
fascinating account on psyllid insects, some of which follows.
Vol. I, p. 448: (Psyllids)
"Wax production common, secreted mostly from base of lanceolate setae...on 
abdomen.  Nymphs of many Spondyliaspidinae build remarkable lerps (scales, 
tests) on eucalypts.  Lerps are largely formed from anal excreta (honeydew) 
and have a high carbohydrate content.  They take various forms such as 
simple sugary cones, univalves, bivalves or intricately woven baskets and 
Makes you want to take along a magnifying glass on the next forest birding 
Martin O'Brien
Executive Scientific Officer
Scientific Advisory Committee
Threatened Species Program
Department of Natural Resources and Environment 
4/250 Victoria Pde.,
East Melbourne,  3002
tel: +61 3 9412 4567
fax: +61 3 9412 4586
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