Psyllids & Lerps

AKA Jumping Plant Lice, these particular psyllids are tiny builders that extract sap from leaves (they have sucking mouthparts like all true bugs) and instead of feeding the resulting waste product to ants in return for protection, they build little coverings called Lerps to hide in until they develop wings. Maybe they just don’t like ants. Whatever, sooty mould loves Lerp honeydew and can end up causing leaf drop and killing the tree. So love your Lerps in moderation. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and you’ll find them on gum leaves, go and look now!

I wish to thank whoever named them lerps.

Three Generations
Left: Psyllid nymph, responsible for making the white lerp. Centre: Just above the white structure, on it’s top edge, is a small yellow egg. Newly hatched psyllids often hide in existing lerps. Top: Adult Psyllid possibly responsible for the egg. Wilston, Qld.
Lerp-forming Psyllid
This tiny nymph constructs intricate housing from honeydew on gum leaves. It will turn into a winged jumping plant louse. Toowong, QLD.
Lerp-forming Psyllid
Psyllid nymph hides in it’s honeydew lerp house on a gum leaf. Toowong, QLD.
Lerp-forming Psyllid
Young plant louse enters it’s lerp – these nymphs construct housing from bodily excretions, a handy skill to have. Toowong, QLD.
Spotted Gum Lerp
The intricate protective cover of a psyllid nymph – formed by crystallised honeydew excreted by the bug. These nymphs turn into winged adult jumping plant lice. Toowong, QLD.
Lerp-forming Psyllid
Tiny plant louse nymph hides in the protective lerp it’s constructed from honeydew. These lerps can attract sooty mould which can cause eucalypts to lose their leaves. Toowong, QLD.

See more lovely lerps here:

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